Australian Women Writers Challenge 2016 – the final tally

imageTime to wrap up what I read and reviewed for the Australian Women Writers Challenge during 2016.

This year I read 35 books and reviewed 12 – up on my reading tally and down on my reviewing from previous years. Although I kept reading in the latter part of the year, I didn’t find the time or energy to review. This was especially true if I left too much of a gap between finishing and putting fingers to keyboard. I tried to make the effort when a publisher sent me a review copy. Of the books I read but didn’t review, the majority were bought or borrowed from the library – or, in the case of My Sister Rosa, won in a competition. (Thanks, Newtown Review of Books!) Some books were chosen simply to help me fill the AWW Challenge Bingo cards. Others were selected as part of my research into 19th- and early 20th-century Australian life, something I’ve become interested in since helping my 93-year-old aunt with her memoirs and researching our family tree.

In terms of categories, my reading lived up to my blog title, “Devoted Eclectic”. Books read included psychological suspense, classics, literary, historical and speculative fiction, YA, “women’s fiction”, romance and nonfiction. Books reviewed tended to be what I think of as “intense human drama”, stories that got my heart and mind churning. Of these, the one that has stuck in my mind most is Dying in the First Person by Nike Sulway. I’m hoping it gets to the Stella Prize long list – if not further! A book I wished I’d made the effort to review is In the Quiet by Eliza Henry-Jones. A very moving debut.

So, here are the books, including hot links to reviews (the first twelve). The remainder includes some books I reviewed on Goodreads but, as they only contained a few lines, I haven’t bothered giving links. (Though every little review helps the authors’ visibility, I’m told. I must update the rest!)

  1. That Devil’s Madness by Dominique Wilson
  2. The Light on the Water by Olga Lorenzo
  3. Ghost Girls by Cath Ferla
  4. I For Isobel by Amy Witting
  5. Out of the Ice by Ann Turner
  6. Dying in the First Person by Nike Sulway
  7. Wild Chicory by Kim Kelly
  8. A Loving, Faithful Animal by Josephine Rowe
  9. Hired By the Brooding Billionaire by Kandy Shepherd
  10. Running Against the Tide by Amanda Ortlepp
  11. Our Eva by Anna Jacobs
  12. Rebellious Daughters eds Maria Katsonis and Lee Koffman
  13. Crown Prince’s Chosen Bride by Kandy Shepherd.
  14. All The Birds Singing by Evie Wyld (audio book)
  15. Defying Doomsday eds Tsana Dolichva and Holly Kench
  16. Like I Can Love by Kim Lock
  17. The Group Settler’s Wife, a novella by Anna Jacob
  18. A Pennyworth of Sunshine by Anna Jacob
  19. Intensive Care by Nikki Edwards
  20. Desperate Deception by DB Tait
  21. My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier
  22. Wild Lavender by Belinda Alexandra
  23. Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar
  24. In the Quiet by Eliza Henry-Jones
  25. Heat and Light by Ellen Van Neerven
  26. Hopscotch by Jane Messer
  27. The Time of the Peacock by Mina Abdullah and Ray Mathew
  28. The Little Bush Maid by Mary Grant Bruce
  29. Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O’Neill
  30. Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger by Fiona Wright
  31. The Safest Place in London by Maggie Joel
  32. Greek Tycoon’s Mistletoe Propoal by Kandy Shepherd
  33. A Match Made in Mistletoe, a novella by Anna Campbell
  34. Millionaire Under the Mistletoe, a novella by Kandy Shepherd
  35. Festive Deception, a novella by DB Tait

How did you go with the challenge? Are you going to participate next year? You can sign up for #aww2017 here. And a reminder that we now have a new Facebook group for AWW challenge participants, and another for authors’ and publishers’ news. Hope to see you there!

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AWW2012 Wrap-up

When I signed up for the Australian Women Writers challenge, I opted for “Franklin-fantastic” level: read 10 books and review four.

My reading selections weighed heavily in favour of literary works and crime, so I’m more of a “Dabbler” than an “Devoted Eclectic”, despite the name of this review blog, but I did manage to include some other genres, including historical fiction/romance, children’s fiction and contemporary women’s fiction.

The first three books are ones I discussed in depth. With Eva Hornung’s Dog Boy, I gave a personal response, rather than a review. The remainder are books I either wrote a (sometimes very brief) review on Good Reads, or didn’t review.

  1. Dreams of Speaking by Gail Jones (Literary fiction)
  2. “What’s all the fuss about?” Geraldine Brooks’ Caleb’s Crossing (Historical fiction/romance)
  3. “Eva Hornung’s Dog Boy and the challenge to moral thinking; or Towards a Systems’ Theory view of Subjectivity” (Young Adult/literary fiction):
  4. PM Newton, The Old School (Literary crime fiction; debut author)
  5. Tansy Rayner Roberts, Sea Castle (Children’s fiction)
  6. Angela Savage, The Half-Child (Crime fiction)
  7. Melanie Joosten, Berlin Syndrome (Literary crime fiction; debut author)
  8. Favel Parrett, Past the Shallows (Literary fiction; debut author)
  9. Rosalie Ham, Summer at Mount Hope (Historical fiction)
  10. Lisa Heidke, Stella Makes Good (Contemporary women’s fiction)

For this challenge I went out of my comfort zone. Apart from readings books by friends, it’s years since I read literary fiction, children’s stories, historical romance or contemporary women’s fiction. My preferred genre is psychological suspense.

What surprised me was how much I enjoyed the books for which I’m clearly not the target audience. I could easily become a fan of Lisa Heidke, for example, and I’d like to read some adult fantasy by Tansy Rayner Roberts. One book I was very excited to discover and which has remained with me was PM Newton’s debut novel, The Old School, which blends literary fiction and crime. But the stand out for me was Eva Hornung’s Dog Boy. I’ll let my review/discussion reveal why.

I intend to continue reading books by Australian women writers throughout 2012 and to coordinate the AWW blog, Twitter feed and Facebook page, but for now I plan to take a break and concentrate on my own writing. (This post has been cross-posted with my personal blog.)

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