I’ve seen a few reading challenges around. Nothing really appealed. As a reviewer I am reading all the time. I don’t need to be challenged to open a book. For me it’s challenge to put it down and get some housework/homework/writing work done. But then I found the 09 Debut Authors Challenge at The Story Siren. I started making a mental list before I realised what that meant. I was hooked into my first challenge!

I was a debut author in 2008 so it feels good to be supporting the team! I’ve decided to read 10 books for starters – there’s already a huge pile on my desk! My mental list was only three long so I had to do some research to find the others – and I just know I’ve dug up treasure.

So here is my list with four places reserved for books that haven’t been published yet (so I don’t know what they are!)

  1. Twilight – Stephanie Meyer. Yes I know I am probably the only person in the world that hasn’t read it yet but ask me again next week!
  2. Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
  3. One Dead Seagull – Scott Gardner – it’s from 2003 but it was his debut novel so I think it still counts. And I’ve always intended to read it!
  4. Skellig – David Almond. OK This one is old too – but I haven’t read it despite good intentions. And it won both the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Award for Best Children’s Book so I think it’s listworthy!
  5. The Worry Tree – Marianne Musgrove
  6. The Shadow Thief – Alexandra Andornetto

And one more that I would love to put on the list because it’s a great debut novel – but I can’t. It would be cheating as Ive already read it. So I’ll post a review instead:

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper. Random House, Young Adult fiction. Australian. Paperback rrp $17.95

Set in the imaginary island kingdom of Montmaray, this book brilliantly blends fictional history with real life events of the 1930’s.

Sophie FitzOsborne, her younger sister Henry, her cousin Veronica and Veronica’s father (mad King John) are the royal family of Montmaray. They live in a rundown castle beside a village with barely any inhabitants. The island is isolated and communications are unreliable.

Veronica is beautiful and could easily make an advantageous marriage but her heart belongs to learning and she spends her time writing a history of the island. Into a fictional history, Michelle Cooper weaves incidents from recent history – the rise of Nazi Germany, the abdication of King Edward to marry Wallis Simpson and the Spanish Civil War – to name a few. The author provides a list of historical events and people cited at the end of the novel.

The young Montmaray royals are devoted to their cousin and future king Toby, who is away at boarding school in London, and determined to see the monarchy survive the combined threat of poverty, international diplomacy and war.

Told through the eyes of Sophie and the words of her journal, this is the story of two very different heroines with ultimately the same purpose. Sophie and Veronica must save the people they love and somehow rescue Montmaray from ruin.

A Brief History of Montmaray is a unique novel which will appeal to those readers looking for something a little different. It doesn’t quite read like a historical novel but has many threads of history woven through it. And there’s plenty of action and adventure with just a touch of fantasy and romance. It’s in a category all of its own. Recommended reading.

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