July saw three states plunged back into lockdowns, making up half the population. Greater Sydney and several of its surrounding regions are still in lockdown, and I had wondered how this might alter our reading habits. In books for those under about thirteen – for the purposes of this challenge, picture books to middle grade books (aimed at readers aged 8 to about 12), we had fifteen reviews, and five for young adult readers. It will be interesting to see how the rest of lockdown reading habits play out, but I still find it interesting that young adult often seems to have fewer books – perhaps because books for younger readers have less uncertainty – we always know those books will end well, whereas other books may not have that certainty, though many do. I’ve tried a different format here, and hope it works, as I am back to my quiz writing work so need to find ways to make everything efficient.

So, in the younger readers books, I decided to highlight the following books, again, I have had to use mostly my entries as they were what made up the bulk of this section. I have included two reviews for the same book, though, as I liked both and felt both were written well.

Alice-Miranda in Egypt by Jacqueline Harvey has been one of my favourite reads this year. I love that Jacqueline Harvey takes her heroine on all sorts of adventures around the world. Taking her to Egypt was a stroke of genius, and I thought this was a great addition to the series.

Both Denise The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Baffling Bully by Katrina Nannestad and I read The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Baffling Bully by Katrina Nannestad, and both enjoyed and the message about friendship that it sent, proving that making an effort with people can have surprising results, and show that people are complex.

Shockingly Good Stories by R.A. Spratt is a series of short stories by R.A. Spratt, featuring Friday Barnes, Nanny Piggins and other beloved characters and fractured fairy tales that will thrill and entertain readers of all ages, and I loved the different takes on traditional tales that spun them on their heads, as I love a good fairy tale retelling, and Nanny Piggins does this well. A great collection of short stories!

The Lion Who Came to Stay by Victoria McKinlay is based on a true story about Victoria’s grandfather receiving a lion for Christmas in the 1930s. This touching story shows a different world to what we know, and the stark differences will create conversations but also show children what world their elderly relatives lived in, and the changes that we’ve seen in recent decades.


Young Adult


With only five reviews in Young Adult, I picked the ones I felt were the best, as the others were either short or didn’t give me an idea of how the reviewer responded to the book.

The Monster of Her Age by Danielle Binks was reviewed by Brenda, and is one that I can’t wait to read either. Brenda says the coming-of-age novel deals with grief, LGBTQIA issues, trauma and forgiveness, and this sounds perfect! It is one that I can’t wait to get my hands on, and am sure I will devour it when I do. Books like this that show representation we don’t often see are wonderful.

Skin Deep by Hayley Lawrence looks at physical differences, disabilities, and invisible disabilities such as autism and anxiety, and those changes that happen so quickly, that one’s life can be altered dramatically. In a book where beauty is something focused on – outer beauty – the growth in this novel proves that inner beauty is more important, that it is who we are that is important. I loved that by the end of the book, disability was seen as a key part of Scarlett’s identity as she came to terms with the way her life was. Another fantastic YA book.


And with that, we head into August, with more great books to come!