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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Suspense and thriller readers – where are you?

Hades Candice FoxOn Tuesday book bloggers from around Australia attended a “National Book Bloggers Forum” at the offices of Random House Australia (RHA) in North Sydney.

Digital gurus, editors and the RHA publicity team all pitched in. We were given insights about Search Engine Optimisation and how to use Google Analytics to drive relevant traffic to our blogs. We were told about up-and-coming titles and given a goodie bag full of books. Authors including Judy Nunn, Sneh Roy and Bruce McCabe spoke about their books and writing process. Throughout the day, Twitter was awash with the hashtag #NBBF14. In the breaks, and over a generous lunch, names, cards, twitter handles and blog URLs were swapped among participants.

I was especially interested in the pitches for thrillers, including Bruce McCabe’s debut Skinjob (in the goodie bag, so more of that another time) and Candice Fox’s forthcoming follow up to Hades, Eden.

Eden – no cover available – was introduced by publisher Beverley Cousins. Cousins pitched Fox as an “Australian Gillian Flynn”. I’m not convinced of that. Cousins was once editor for the Nicci French writing duo – from memory, she worked on Secret Smile, one of the creepiest of the NF books. To me, that’s a closer fit with Fox and Hades. (If you’ve read my reviews of Hades, Flynn’s Gone Girl, and my discussion of Nicci French’s writing,  you’ll know what I mean.) Maybe Eden will be different.

In the open forum at the end, I asked whether there were any other bloggers who review crime and suspense novels. Only one person put up her hand, Debbish from Debbishdotcom. Most of the others, I think, specialise in YA and teen fiction, although I did come across a “vlogger” who reads classics, and there were at least two who specialise in nonfiction.

So where are all the crime fiction readers/bloggers? Maybe they all live in Melbourne?

And, while we’re at it, where were all the men? There were only two men among 35+ bloggers, a gender imbalance that caused Bruce McCabe to comment, “Who are the real readers out there? Spend one minute in this room and you’ll know.”

Do you read crime, thrillers and/or suspense fiction?

Bruce McCabe addresses National Book Bloggers Forum 2014

Bruce McCabe addresses National Book Bloggers Forum 2014 – photo courtesy of Dymmocks Books

 

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