Children’s and Young Readers: Round Up Two (2014)

Welcome back to our second Children’s books roundup for 2014. Since our last round up we’ve had another five reviews submitted – all of which made me incredibly excited!

fire jackie frenchOur first book is also the first picture book which has been reviewed this year. Fire by Jackie French was reviewed by A Strong Belief in Wicker, who pointed out that it is clearly a companion book to 2011′s Flood. She also notes that fires are very much a part of many children’s lives – either through media or as a threat to their homes and lives and that French has captured this threat in a moving and true representation.

A Strong Belief in Wicker also reviewed the seventh in Jacqueline Harvey’s Alice-Miranda series – Alice-Miranda in Paris. This is a story which combines a school trip, Paris, fashion week and expensive fabric – so it’s definitely going on my to-read list! A Strong Belief in Wicker points to the incredible success of these books – with 9 released since 2010!

Amanda jinks unusual pursuitCurtin brings us A Very Unusual Pursuit by Catherine Jinks which is set around 1870 in a grim London with harshly divided class lines and children who have to work if they want to survive. Into this Jinks introduces:

. . . a coexisting supernatural realm held in fear and spoken of in hushed voices, populated by creatures inhabiting dark places like chimneys, drains, privvies. Children go missing here, presumed eaten.

Amanda is particularly impressed with the character of Birdie – a realistic, strong character with a good dose of Victorian ‘girl power’.

Birdie is gutsy and forthright but always within the context of her time and place, her social position.

Other reviews include Slave Girl (Alexa Moses) reviewed by Brenda and the classic The Nargun and the Stars (Patricia Wrightson) reviewed by Sally from Oz

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As well as our regular reviews, we had the release of a couple of shortlists in the last month. I’ll take a look at the Children’s Book Council of Australia shortlists in another post, but I wanted to make quick mention of the shortlist for The Readings Children’s Book Prize – a prize which is aimed at raising the profile of debut and ‘rising’ Australian authors in the Junior/Middle area. Eight books were shortlisted with six of those written by Australian Women Writers!

The shortlisted books by AWWs are:

  • jamie-reign-tierneyJamie Reign: The Last Spirit Warrior by P.J. Tierney (Reviewed by Tsana and Nalini Haynes)
  • Song for a Scarlet Runner by Julie Hunt
  • Stay Well Soon by Penny Tangey (Reviewed by Bree)
  • The Girl Who Brought Mischief by Katrina Nannestad
  • Ruby Red Shoes Goes to Paris by Kate Knapp (Reviewed by A Strong Belief in Wicker)
  • Smooch & Rose by Samantha Wheelerstaywellsoon-tangey

I know there are people out there who love a challenge, so I challenge you to track down these six books to read and review! It’s a great way to support authors establishing themselves and a great way to share the wonderful books they write. Everyone wins!

About Me

I’ve had a strong interest in children’s fiction since Grade 1 when a fabulous teacher bribed me with Famous Five novels. I continued reading Melina Dchildren’s and YA books  long after I was supposed to ‘grow up’ – something which served me very well when I became a teacher and was known all over the school as ‘the teacher with the books’. I’m currently on maternity leave, enjoying the rich world of picture books with my toddler and sporadically blogging over at Adventures of a Subversive Reader

 

 

 

Kibble and Dobbie Literary Awards – 2014 Longlists Announced

Longlists for the 21st Kibble and Dobbie Literary Awards (the Awards) were announced last week. Congratulations to all longlisted authors!

Presented annually, The Kibble Literary Awards for Women Writers comprise two awards:

  • The Kibble Literary Award (currently valued at $30,000) recognises an established Australian author
  • The Dobbie Literary Award (currently valued at $5,000) recognises a first published Australian author.

Open to Australian female writers who have published fiction or non-fiction classified as life writing the Awards have recognised some of Australia’s leading female authors.

The longlisted authors for the Kibble Literary Award ($30, 000 prize) for the work of an established Australian woman writer are:

 

Debra Adelaide - Letter to George Clooney (Picador Australia)
Georgia Blain - The Secret Lives of Men (Scribe)
Ashley HayThe Railway man’s Wife (Allen & Unwin)
Rachel Hennessy - The Heaven I Swallowed (Wakefield Press)
Melissa Lucashenko - Mullumbimby (University of Queensland Press)
Kristina Olsson - Boy, Lost: A Family Memoir (University of Queensland Press)

The longlisted authors for the Dobbie Literary Award ($5, 000 prize) for a first-published work are:

Sarah Drummond - Salt Story: Of Sea Dogs and Fisherwomen (Freemantle Press)
Fiona McFarlaneThe Night Guest (Penguin Group Australia)
Margaret MerrileesThe First Week (Wakefield Press)
Kate RichardsMadness: a Memoir (Penguin Group Australia)
Inga SimpsonMr Wigg (Hatchette Australia)
Jill StarkHigh Sobriety: my year without booze (Scribe)

Speaking on behalf of the panel, Humanities Australia Editor, Emeritus Professor Elizabeth Webby AM, said: “The arts community and the wider Australian public should be immensely proud that we continue to produce such fascinating, imaginative female authors, who have an unwavering ability to create such powerful novels.”

“The scope of subject matter explored by the longlisted authors and the intensity of the themes made the judging process all the more rewarding,” Professor Webby said.

Also on the judging panel is State Library of New South Wales Research and Discovery Manager, Maggie Patton, and internationally published novelist, Dr Rosie Scott.

The shortlisted authors will be announced on Wednesday 4 June, with the winners of both categories to be formally announced on Wednesday 23 July.

You can access all reviews written by AWW Challenge participants here and as always, please keep sending us your reviews as you read through award longlists/shortlists.

About Nita May Dobbie

Nita May Dobbie (1904-1992) established the Kibble Literary Awards for Women Writers in recognition of her aunt, Nita Kibble, who raised her from birth after her mother died. Miss Nita Kibble was hired as a junior assistant at the Public Library of New South Wales, when her signature was taken for a man’s in 1899. She later became the first woman to be appointed a librarian with the State Library of New South Wales and held the position of Principal Research Officer from 1919 until her retirement in 1943. Throughout her career she worked hard to raise the status of the library profession and was a founding member of the Australian Institute of Librarians. Miss Dobbie followed her aunt into the library profession and recognised the need to foster women’s writing.

She established the awards, named after her inspirational aunt, through her will. For more information about the awards visit www.perpetual.com.au/kibble

About Me

I’m a freelance book reviewer, journalist, writer and editor. I blog over at Wordsville and can be found on Twitter @PaulaGrunseit

March 2014 Roundup: Classics and Literary

Well, last month’s bribe seems to have worked! We’ve gone from no Classics reviewed in February to four in March. I shall be true to my word and mention each one under the Classics heading below.

March was also significant for the announcement of the Miles Franklin Literary Award long list. Seven of the 11 books shortlisted are by women. Read more about it in Paula Grunseit’s excellent post.

March musings, statistically speaking

Thirty-nine reviews were posted this month, 10 more than last month. They covered 31 authors, meaning several books/authors were reviewed more than once. Amanda Curtin’s Elemental continues its march (pun intended) this month with another two reviews. Linda Jaivin’s Quarterly Essay Found in translation, Hannah Kent’s Burial rites, Kirsten Krauth’s just_a_girl, Carrie Tiffany’s Mateship with birds, and Evie Wyld’s All the birds singing also received two reviews each. Hazel Rowley was reviewed twice, by Peter Corris, for  Franklin and Eleanor and Tête-à-Tête, her biography of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.

My highlights for this month are:

  • Our most reviewed author for the first quarter is Amanda Curtin, with six reviews for Elemental and one for Sinkings. Congratulations Amanda.
  • Super-blogger for the month was Jane Rawson who posted 4 reviews. She was closely followed by Mindy with 3. Jane has a website but posts her reviews at Goodreads. Mindy contributes to a wonderfully titled collaborative blog Hoyden About Town.

The Classics

Thea Astley, A boatload of home folkFour classics! I think that’s pretty much a record for the Challenge.

Debbie Robson reviewed Thea Astley’s A Boatload of Home Folk, and wasn’t overly keen, writing:

A Boat Load of Home Folk are sad, pathetic, very flawed and with virtually no redeeming features. I also had a lot of trouble with Astley’s very unusual style.

Astley does have an idiosyncratic style. Debbie says she’s prepared to try one of Astley’s later works so she wasn’t completely deterred. Conversely, Jane Rawson loved The getting of wisdom, calling it “hilarious and subversive”. Richardson is probably our most reviewed Classics author in the challenge to date, and with good reason. I found Barbara Baynton’s use of the vernacular challenging in the short story “Billy Skywonkie”, but see it as a significant work for its questioning of the era’s romantic notions of the bush and bushmen.

The great gatsbyThe fourth Classic, Nicki Greenberg’s graphic novel adaptation of The Great Gatsby, is a little trickier to categorise. Is a modern Australian woman’s adaptation of an American classic still a classic? I’m not sure, but why not? Sean, the Bookonaut, writes this:

Greenberg has a reputation for drawing interesting non-human  depictions of characters and this is evident in the creation of a host of different creatures for the main characters in the book.  Nick Carraway is an unassuming slug, Daisy is a puff headed fluff ball, Gatsby a seahorse, Tom Buchannan a brutish ogre and Jordan Baker a squid, to name a few.  It’s interesting to map these depictions to certain character traits. [...] Clever and slightly bizarre, it fits the period well and was a pleasure to read.

If you are looking for something different, this could be the book for you.

Miles Franklin Literary Award

Of the seven books by women writers longlisted for the award, three were reviewed in March: Melissa Lucashenko’s Mullumbimby (1), Fiona McFarlane’s The night guest (1) and Evie Wyld’s All the birds, singing (2). 

Katie Keyes notes the autobiographical element of Mullumbimby, and describes it as

a quiet and effective advocate – a compelling tale that leaves me with a better sense of Australian Aboriginal experience than anything else I’ve read recently.

McFarlane, The night guestSonja Porter describes The night guest as “a well-crafted story” about love, ageing, loneliness and deceit. Belinda Hopper enjoyed All the birds, singing, even though, or perhaps because, she wasn’t sure of its conclusion. Orange Pekoe Reviews also enjoyed Wyld’s novel, calling it “a short, almost perfect novel” though she wasn’t sure she needed all the metaphorical references to birds “as it was the story itself that hooked me”.

As Paula wrote in her report (linked above), we have only one review so far of Tracey Farr’s The life and loves of Lena Gaunt, and have none yet for Cory Taylor’s My beautiful enemy. Let’s hope we see some next month – you’ll be sure to get a mention if you are one of those!

Short stories …

Holiday in CambodiaFor my final section this month I thought I’d do a little plug for short stories. I know many readers don’t like them, but fortunately we do have some enthusiasts among our participants. Three reviews were posted in the literary sub-category last month.

Kathryn Goldie loved last year’s MUBA (Most Underrated Book Award) shortlisted book, Two steps forward by Irma Gold. It was a book she noticed on the shelves at Readings bookshop and she’s glad she did. She says that “Each story is told in a different voice, without smacking of the experimental, uneven tone of some short story collections” and found the varied characters “deftly drawn and believable”.

Something rather different is Laura Jean McKay’s collection, Holiday in Cambodia, which was reviewed by Anna Sparga-Ryan. This collection, too, sounds highly varied despite all having the same setting. The stories cover “war, famine, torture, sex slavery” and exhibit an empathy for the country. Sparga-Ryan found the characterisation excellent, and said the writing is “sparse, concise and unlaboured”. 

Angie Holst read Cate Kennedy’s Like a house on fire, and called it “a glorious collection”. She also gives a plug in general for reading short stories – which seems a suitable point on which to end this month’s round-up:

I’m really enjoying reading these short stories anthologies as a departure from novel reading, with the dipping in and out much like the watching of television episodes as opposed to films. I like the quick and constant variation in genre, narrative voices and setting. Kennedy has proven herself adept at this constant variation, and she has a tremendous eye for the minutea of domestic life.

If you are uncertain about short stories, you might like to think again!

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About Me

I am Whispering Gums and I read, review and blog about (mostly) literary fiction. It was reading Jane Austen when I was 14 years old that turned me on to reading literary fiction/classics, which is why I am here today doing this round-up! Little did Jane know what she started!

My love of Aussie literature started with Banjo Paterson’s ballads and Ethel Turner’s Seven Little Australians in my childhood. But, I didn’t really discover Australian women’s writing until the 1980s when I “met” and fell in love with Elizabeth Jolley, Thea Astley, Olga Masters, Helen Garner and Kate Grenville. Ever since then I have been making sure to include a good percentage of Australian (and other) women writers in my reading diet.

March 2014 Wrap Up: Romance, Romantic Suspense and Erotica

Welcome to the March roundup. I will give fair warning that this is going to be a long post! Not only am I going to be talking about the books that were read and reviewed for the challenge in March I am also going to be talking about the 2013 Australian Romance Readers Awards.

Once again there was a strong number of reviews linked up to the challenge during March with a total of 26.  There were several authors who were reviewed multiple times for the challenge including a couple of new releases.

Loretta Hill’s The Girl in the Yellow Vest was reviewed by both Paula and Sally from Oz and these two readers both also reviewed Someone Like You by Victoria Purman. Sally was impressed saying:

Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.

MountainAshOsborn

 

There were two new releases that were reviewed multiple times this month. The first was Mountain Ash by Margareta Osborn which was reviewed three times. Brenda was one who reviewed the book very enthusiastically over at Goodreads:

Wow! I absolutely loved this novel! It started off with a bang and continued throughout the whole book. I will admit to it being a little predictable early in the piece, but the predictability disappeared to weave a tale of deception, lies, secrets, anguish and insecurity; a wonderful story which drew me in from the start, and left me sighing and smiling when it was over.

 

SafeHarbourHeleneYoung

 

The other book that I am going to focus on briefly is Safe Harbour by Helene Young. Shelleyrae at Book’d Out says of the book:

Safe Harbour is a first-rate, absorbing romantic suspense novel, balancing a dramatic story with strong characters and an engaging romance.  

And Bree from All the Books I Can Read was similarly impressed

 Another truly stellar novel from the go-to author for Australian romantic suspense.

 

Now let’s turn our attention to the ARRA Awards. Each year the Australian Romance Readers Association runs awards recognising the best romance novelists and books. The 2013 awards were presented in Sydney on March 22 in a glittering ceremony. Well, actually, it was a dinner, but each year there is a “bling off” where guest are asked to wear as much shiny, glittery bling as they can.  I was very surprised to see how much bling some of these ladies could find in their wardrobes  when I attended the dinner a few years ago! If you want to find out more (of course there are photos!), head to BookThingo’s Storify recap. Anyway, I digress.

I thought that this month I would share some review links and quotes for the winning books. After all, if avid readers of the genre think that these are the best of the best they might be a great place for others to start too!

And the winners were…

The Favourite Paranormal Romance for 2013 is Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh who is a New Zealand author .

Allegiance sworn Griffin

The Favourite Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Futuristic Romance 2013 is Allegiance Sworn by Kylie Griffin, which is the third book in the Light Blade series.

Shelleyrae from Book’d Out reviewed Allegiance Sworn and had this to say about the series as a whole

Set in an imaginative world where humans and demons are on the brink of war, Griffin combines romance, action, intrigue and magic in each book of her Light Blade series. I eagerly read one after another, enjoying an escape into the fantasy of warriors and heroines falling in love and fighting for peace.

 

The One That Got Away by Kelly Hunter (published by Harlequin Kiss)

The Favourite Short Category Romance 2013 is The One That Got Away by Kelly Hunter. This book was reviewed by Kat at BookThingo who summarised her thoughts about the book by saying:

This is a beautifully written, subtle, angsty story that, for me, cements Kelly Hunter as one of the best writers of modern category romance. It’s my first keeper for the year.

UntamedCowanAnna

The Favourite Historical Romance 2013 is Untamed by Anna Cowan. This author was also named as the Favourite New Author.

Both Kat from BookThingo and Kaetrin from Kaetrin’s Musings reviewed Untamed and agree that is very unusual book, not your usual run of the mill historical romance. Kaetrin finishes her review by saying

I think the concept and not-the-usual of it deserve mad props and there was much to like.  And I’m pleased to say it was not a tangled mess. As this is the author’s debut, I can only expect her craft to improve with time and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.So: the creation in my hands at the end? I think it was an ambitious and curious thing, with parts full of beauty, parts of mystery and overall, pleasing to the eye.

Kat also highlights the unusualness by saying

Untamed isn’t a comfortable story; the plots and characters defy expectations. It takes what romance readers think we know of Regency romance and almost throws it back in our faces, and the reader must make sense of the fragments left.

andrews holding out for hero

The Favourite Contemporary Romance 2013 is Holding Out for a Hero by Amy Andrews which was reviewed by Kaetrin who summarises

Holding Out For A Hero is a fun sexy contemporary with an Australian flavour and setting which will feel familiar to the locals but is not so very different as to be a barrier to international readers.

HalfMoonBayYoung

The Favourite Romantic Suspense 2013 is Half Moon Bay by Helene Young which was a favourite here at the challenge too as it was one of the most reviewed books in this category for the last year and the reviews were overwhelmingly positive. Helene Young’s latest book has just been released so I expect to see lots of reviews of that book over the coming months.  I am not going to quote from every one of the reviews for Half Moon Bay but I will share a couple and then add in links to the others below.

Marcia from Down Under said of Half Moon Bay

Fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat action and intrigue with some tantalizing romantic encounters, Half Moon Bay is a fantastic addition to Australian romantic suspense and truly is “love in the heart of danger”.

And from Lauren at The Australian Bookshelf

Half Moon Bay is a fast-paced, intriguing suspense novel set against the backdrop of a tranquil setting. From conspiracies about drug smuggling in the Australian army, to the dangerous dealings of Afghanistan to the small town politics of northern NSW, Helene manages to cover all grounds while creating two intelligent and intriguing characters.

Jess at The Never Ending Bookshelf declares herself a fan saying

I highly recommend this novel to fans of the romantic suspense genre, or really anyone who wants to read a beautiful novel about the cost that comes with doing something the right way. It is heart wrenching beautiful, with a powerful love story that might just prove to be more powerful then them all.

Other reviews: Shelleyrae at Book’d Out, Bree at All the Books I Can Read, Brenda at Goodreads, Teddyree at The Eclectic Reader, Monique at Write Note Reviews and Jenn McLeod at Goodreads.

Half Moon Bay also won the award for Favourite Cover.

rake's midnight kiss

The Favourite Continuing Romance Series 2013 is the Sons of Sin series by Anna Campbell.  Whilst there are quite a few reviews for Anna Campbell’s standalone books there weren’t many at all for this series. In fact, there were none for the first book in the series, Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed, and only one by Karen and Teddyree over at The Eclectic Reader for the second instalment in the series (assuming you count novellas as a full instalment) Days of Rakes and Roses. Teddyree also reviewed the latest book in the series, A Rake’s Midnight Kiss saying

Why should you read it? … it’s deliciously naughty, romantic, saucy, funny and I loved it! Good enough? I spent half the book giggling and the other half fanning myself … a little overheating never hurt anyone. Nothing better than a book that makes you smile and when you finish you want to start all over again.

skin-kylie-scott

The Favourite Erotic Romance 2013 is Skin by Kylie Scott, the second book in the Flesh series. This book was reviewed by Cathleen at Goodreads in a short but sweet “I loved it” review.

In addition, Kylie Scott also won The Favourite Australian Romance Author 2013. Whilst we didn’t have many reviews for Skin, a couple of her other books have been reviewed. Bree from All the Books I Can Read and Kaetrin reviewed Lick, which is the first book in the Stage Dive series (the second of which has just been released so I expect we will see more about it in future round ups). Both reviews were very enthusiastic with Bree describing Lick as “amazing” saying

 I had my kindle handy and just began reading the book I’d most recently loaded onto it, which was this one. I. Could. Not. Put. It. Down. The story of David and Evelyn is so compelling and so entertaining that I had to keep going until I’d reached the end, no matter what else was happening around me.

To read Kaetrin’s review click here.

Eleni reviewed Flesh, the first book in the Flesh series over at Goodreads. She finishes her review

Still a brilliant story with great description and wicked dialogue.

outbackdreams-johns

Last but not least, the Sexiest Hero was named as Daniel ‘Monty’ Montgomery from Outback Dreams by Rachael Johns. Rachael was one of our most reviewed authors last year and there are a number of reviews of Outback Dreams included. Sally from Books and Musing Down Under said of the book

OUTBACK DREAMS was a great read, a perfect blend of romance, believable conflict, perfect miscommunication and a happy ever after which will melt the most romance reading resistant heart. Rachel Johns brings the outback community alive and makes excellent use of humour to break up potentially traumatic scenes

Other reviews:  Teddyree from The Eclectic Reader, Bree from All the Books I Can Read and Shelleyrae from Book’d Out

 

Phew! I think I need to go and read my book after all that!!

I’ll be back next month with more highlights from the romance, romantic suspense and erotica genres.

As always you can find more of the romance reviews at any time by clicking on the Weebly pages where new reviews are always being added.

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Marg has long been an avid reader of all genres, with the most books read being in the romance genre. Marg has been blogging about all different genres and other things at Adventures of an Intrepid Reader for more than 8 years. You can tweet to her @margreads.

YA Speculative Fiction Round-Up: Feb-Mar 2014

Hi!

Welcome to the February and March round up of YA Speculative Fiction! We’ve had 19 reviews submitted over the last two months – 9 in February and 10 in March :)

Forget Me Not Stacey Nash book coverSince her mother vanished nine years ago, Anamae and her father have shared a quiet life. But when Anamae discovers a brooch identical to her mother’s favorite pendant, she unknowingly invites a slew of trouble into their world. When the brooch and the pendant are worn together they’re no longer pretty pieces of jewelry — they’re part of a highly developed technology capable of cloaking the human form. Triggering the jewelry’s power attracts the attention of a secret society determined to confiscate the device — and silence everyone who is aware of its existence. Anamae knows too much, and now she’s Enemy Number One.

The most reviewed book over this period has been Forget Me Not by Stacey Nash, with three reviews.”The tension, the twists and turns throughout, the web of intrigue – all had me glued to the pages” says Brenda, and Cassandra Page concurs with “[T]he story is action- and character-driven, whisking you along”. Rochelle Sharpe rounds out the praise of the novel with “If you like awesome technology and secret societies in your YA, as well as action and romance, I highly recommend Forget Me Not.” Sounds like a read that shouldn’t be missed!

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf book coverThe Reckoning destroyed civilisation. Rising from the ashes, some people have developed unique abilities, and society is scared of them. Guided by the ancient spirits of the land, Ashala Wolf will do anything to keep them safe.

When Ashala is captured, she realises she has been betrayed by someone she trusted. When her interrogator starts digging in her memories for information, she doubts she can protect her people forever. Will the Tribe survive the interrogation of Ashala Wolf?

The second most popular book has been The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina. The first book in a dystopian series written by an indigenous author, the book has been getting steady attention in this challenge since its publication in 2012. There is a sequel, The Disappearance of Ember Crow, which is available now. Stephanie Gunn describes it as “a start to a very promising series by an Australian author, and an extremely accomplished debut” and Jason Nahrung elaborates on the Australian feel: “In this action story with its underlying and competently drawn romance subplot, the theme of the strength of the pack – of mutual care and concern – gives the book its heart. There are echoes of the colonial devastation of Indigenous Australia subtly vibrating through the story as Ashala draws strength from the memory and inspiration of her friends.”

Gifted Ingrid Alexandra book coverLucy Jones possesses an unusual—and extraordinary—gift. Her ability to sense the emotions of others is both a blessing and a curse, eventually driving her to seek refuge from its consequences by fleeing her hometown of Sydney.

Aussie Owned and Read enjoyed Gifted by Ingrid Alexandra, saying “Gifted was one of those books that keep you guessing. There’s a lot of mystery threaded in between all that teen drama and Ingrid balanced it out well. The whole whodunit aspect pushed the plot along and made Gifted a quick read.”

Chasing the Valley: Borderlands by Melki Wegner book coverDanika and her crew of escaped refugees are seeking the safety of the Magnetic Valley – and trying to evade Sharr Morrigan, the king’s most lethal hunter. But the borderlands they must cross to reach the Valley are smugglers’ territory: lawless, wild and steeped in ancient magic. When one of the crew is badly wounded, Danika turns to the smugglers for help – and accepts a bargain that might prove deadly.

It is Lukas, however, who hides the most dangerous secret. What has he seen through the eagle’s eyes? The answer can be found in an alchemy charm and a smuggler’s tale, and will lead Danika and her friends to an electrifying, unputdownable showdown.

“[Chasing the Valley:]Borderlands is a wonderful blend of adventure, science fiction and magic set in a dystopian world” says Sally from Oz about the second book in Wegner’s Chasing the Valley series. Sally actually picked up the book not knowing it was the second book in a series, but she didn’t find it difficult to follow at all, and is looking forward to the third book in the series.

Sally also reviewed Frontier Incursion by Leonie Rogers, the first book in a new YA Science Fiction trilogy, calling it “A truly wonderful reading experience”. She loved everything about the book, including its pacing, action and character relationships.

A Corner of White Jaclyn Moriarty book coverMadeleine Tully lives in Cambridge, England, the World – a city of spires, Isaac Newton and Auntie’s Tea Shop. Elliot Baranski lives in Bonfire, the Farms, the Kingdom of Cello – where seasons roam, the Butterfly Child sleeps in a glass jar, and bells warn of attacks from dangerous Colours. They are worlds apart – until a crack opens up between them; a corner of white – the slim seam of a letter.

“A Corner of White is a wonderful example of the endless possibilities of fiction, and the brilliance that emerges when those possibilities are explored” says Raelke, who enjoyed the novel despite finding it a bit hard to get into, and remarks that “[h]aving finished the book, it is clearer to see that the beginning is not really slow at all, just Moriarty planting seeds which the discerning reader might sow before the end of the book.” The sequel, The Cracks in the Kingdom, is available now.

The other reviews submitted during February and March:

I’ll be back in June with the April and May reviews :) In the mean time, look out for Disruption by Jessica Shirvington, a science fiction thriller I think a lot of people will enjoy.

Happy Reading!

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About Me

Hi! I’m Shaheen from Speculating on SpecFic, a book blog dedicated to works of speculative fiction – fantasy, science fiction, magic realism, paranormal romance and much more. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love reading and use my blog to peddle my love to others. When not reading (rare times indeed), I can be found completing my PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

March 2014: General Fiction

For the purposes of this challenge ‘general fiction’, is defined as fiction set post mid 1950′s, which does not fit neatly into a specific literary genre.

Tiddas

 

Anita Heiss has been one of the most popular authors in the AWW Challenge so far, with more than 19 reviews of her books including her chick-lit novels Manhattan Dreaming, Paris Dreaming and Avoiding Mr Right, her memoirAm I Black Enough For you? and her poetry book  I’m Not Racist butMarch saw the release of her newest novel Tiddas.

“A story about what it means to be a friend … Five women, best friends for decades, meet once a month to talk about books … and life, love and the jagged bits in between. Dissecting each other’s lives seems the most natural thing in the world – and honesty, no matter how brutal, is something they treasure. Best friends tell each other everything, don’t they? But each woman harbours a complex secret and one weekend, without warning, everything comes unstuck.”

Shelleyrae of Book’d Out  writes, ” These are women we can likely relate to in one way or another, smart, savvy, socially aware, they are varyingly wives, mothers, daughters, cousins, in law’s and, of course, tiddas… They variously evoke admiration, sympathy and laughter and I thought their personal journeys, and their sisterhood, to be portrayed realistically.” Bree of AllTheBooksICanRead notes, “As quite obviously, a majority of the characters are Aboriginal or connected to Aboriginals, there’s a lot of discussion of Aboriginal issues, both in a national way and also in a much more intimate personal way, such as the role of women within the family group and the community tribe.” Lisa Walker finished the book, “with a sense of having been enriched by some lively and intelligent company.”

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Jennifer Smart, who spent five years working on Home and Away as a Director’s Assistant and then scriptwriter, draws on that experience in her debut novel The Wardrobe Girl  offering a behind-the-scenes peek at television production, and a close up of the action happening off camera.

wardrobe girl smartAfter the humiliating end of her last relationship, this is just what TV costume designer, Tess Appleby, needs to hear. Sure, a wardrobe assistant on a soap is a step down from her gig at the BBC, but all Tess wants is an easy life . . . Unfortunately she’s barely arrived on set before she’s warding off the attentions of the show’s heartthrob, Sean Tyler – and, as a consequence, the hostility of its other star, Bree Brenner. And if the pressures and politics of working on a TV drama aren’t enough, she’s living with her high-maintenance mother, an ageing celebrity, and her infuriating sister Emma, an aspiring actress. Still, Tess is certain she can deal with everything they throw at her – until Jake Freeman, her ex-fiancé, the man she last saw eight years ago as he walked away and broke her heart, is named the show’s new director… “

Bree of AllTheBooksiCanRead, enjoyed the parts of the story that dealt with filming the soap and all of the intricacies involved with that behind the scenes and the banter between the crew, plus I loved that it was set in Sydney.” Sam of Sam Still Reading thought, “The characters were done well – Tess’s family in particular were cleverly drawn and ….The other actors and crew were funny and unique”. Monique of WriteNoteReviews warns,I wouldn’t class this as a romance though – it’s more soap opera, what with Tess’s family, work and relationship dramas.”

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grass-castle-viggersIn The Grass Castle, Karen Viggers tells an epic story of love and loss and the strength it takes to keep on living after. It is a beautifully written tale that I enjoyed immensely. Karen really impressed me with her writing style and I loved the setting.” writes Rochelle of Inside My Worlds.

“The daughter of a pastoralist, Daphne grew up in a remote valley of the Brindabella Ranges where she raised her family with her husband, Doug, in a world of horses, cattle and stockmen. But then the government forced them off their land and years later, Daphne is still trying to come to terms with the grief of her departure from the mountains and its tragic impact on her husband. It is during a regular visit to her valley that she meets Abby, a lonely young woman shying away from close contact with others, running from a terrible event in her early teens. But Daphne is a patient mentor, and slowly a gentle friendship develops between them. While Abby’s family history means she tries to ignore her feelings for journalist Cameron, Daphne struggles with her own past and the long shadow it may have cast over the original inhabitants of their land. Both women must help each other face the truth and release long-buried family secrets before they can be free. The Grass Castle is a sweeping rural epic that reflects the strength which resides in us all: the courage to grow and learn from the past.”

Sam of Sam Still Reading wrote, “The narrative has a quiet, lyrical feeling to it as if the reader is standing back, watching things unfold through a misty lens. At first I found the pace rather slow, but as the book progressed I found myself looking forward to the chance to slow down and lose myself in the book.” while Brenda thought, “The way the past was woven into the present was beautifully done, everything blended and wound its way to a very satisfying conclusion.”

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Other titles earning recommendations last month include Night Street by Kristel Thornell from Jessica White, Distance by Nene Davis reviewed by Simone at Great Aussie ReadsThe Corner of Your Eye by Kate Lyons given five stars by Danielle , The Memory Trap by Andrea Goldsmith reviewed by Amanda of looking up/looking down and Shelleyrae at Book’d Out enjoyed The Wrong Girl by Zoe Foster.

night street thornell    DistanceNeneDavies    the corner of your eye - kate lyons     memory-trap-goldsmith    the wrong girl -zoe foster

 

You can browse more general fiction titles reviewed by participants on the AWW review site

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About Me

My name is Shelleyrae Cusbert I am a mother of four children, aged 7 to 17, living in the mid north coast of NSW. I am an obsessive reader and publish my thoughts about what I read at my book blog,  Book’d Out.  In 2012 I read and reviewed a total of 109 books for the AWW Challenge and in 2013 a total of 117. I juggle caring for my family with a part time job and volunteer at both the town’s local library and her children’s school library.

 

Miles Franklin Literary Award 2014 Longlist Announced/Reviews roundup

MilesFranklin

The longlist for this year’s Miles Franklin Literary Award has been announced and includes seven titles by women, four by men. two debut novelists, and two past winners. It’s great to see some crossover with several Stella Prize-listed titles.

Speaking on behalf of the judging panel, State Library of NSW Mitchell Librarian, Richard Neville, said the strength and diversity of this year’s entrants is testament to the depth and breadth of Australian literary talent.

“With 53 submissions received, the 2014 Miles Franklin Literary Award has once again cemented itself as a pre-eminent award within the national arts community. Whittling the entries down to 11 for the longlist was both rewarding and challenging due to the high calibre of submissions.

“From acclaimed former Miles Franklin winners to exciting new voices, this year’s longlist reflects the great strength, variety and richness of current Australian fiction,” he said.

The longlisted titles are:

  • The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt (Tracy Farr, Fremantle Press)
  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Richard Flanagan, Vintage)
  • The Railwayman’s Wife (Ashley Hay, A&U)
  • Mullumbimby (Melissa Lucashenko, UQP)
  • The Night Guest (Fiona McFarlane, Hamish Hamilton)
  • Belomor (Nicolas Rothwell, Text)
  • Game (Trevor Shearston, A&U)
  • My Beautiful Enemy (Cory Taylor, Text)
  • Eyrie (Tim Winton, Hamish Hamilton)
  • The Swan Book (Alexis Wright, Giramondo)
  • All the Birds, Singing (Evie Wyld, Vintage).

The Miles Franklin Award is regarded as Australia’s most prestigious literature prize, having been established through the will of My Brilliant Career author, Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin. First awarded in 1957, the Award is presented each year to the novel which is of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases.

Richard Neville is joined on the judging panel by The Australian journalist and columnist, Murray Waldren, Sydney-based bookseller, Anna Low, biographer, book historian, publishing editor, and Queensland Writers Centre founding chair Craig Munro and Emeritus Professor, Susan Sheridan.

Last year’s award was presented to Michelle de Kretser for Questions of Travel (A&U).

The Miles Franklin 2014 shortlist will be announced at a public event at the State Library of New South Wales on Thursday 15 May 2014, with the winner to be announced on Thursday 26 June 2014.

Reviews Roundup

lena-gaunt-farr

So far, there has been only one (very short) AWW Challenge review of The Life and Times of Lena Gaunt. We’d love to hear more from readers about this novel about music and the life of Lena Gaunt, “theremin player of legend.” I’ve always loved the eerie, twangy sound of the theremin and am intrigued to find out more about Lena’s life in Singapore and Western Australia.

the-railwaymans-wife

I adored The Railway Man’s Wife and predicted it would or at least should be on awards lists so am thrilled to see it here on the longlist. It has been reviewed many times by AWW Challenge participants including Michelle McLaren who wrote: “An elegiac tale of love, loss and letting go, Ashley Hay’s second novel, The Railwayman’s Wife, shimmers with grace. It’s an unhurried, lyrical novel; sad and sweet at the same time. Hay’s pace is deliberately languid as she drifts smoothly between events in the present and the past, as gradually we learn, in alternating chapters, how Mac and Annika met and fell in love – first with each other, and then with Thirroul. The Railwayman’s Wife is an elegant novel, rendered with consummate skill. It’s charged with emotion – after all, how could a novel about grief be anything else? – but Hay never lets herself stray into melodrama or mawkish sentiment.”

Mullumbimby

I raided a couple of my local public libraries for this year’s Stella Prize titles and am looking forward to grabbing this one from my TBR pile. Mullumbimby has been reviewed by many Challenge participants including Katie Keys, Sue over at Discombobula, and AWW’s Jessica White. Katie Keys writies: “It is a book of love, grief and discovery, of the small daily fights that make up the one big one, and of a new quality of conversation that Australia is having with itself.” Sue loved the book saying: “As a whitey, reading a novel set in Queensland, a few thousand k’s away from me both geographically and otherwise, I feel a rather keen sense of jealousy, running alongside a feeling of kinship, alongside a conscious need to check my romanticism….This book is about dualities. About the ways language is used as a tool, as a proof of identity.  About barbed wire spaced throughout land once stolen, fences which keep out or keep in.  It is about misconceptions, on both sides of the black and white divide, and about generosity.  It is about a familiar Australia and a foreign one.”

McFarlane, The night guest

Sonja reviewed The Night Guest saying: “McFarlane has approached this story of love, ageing loneliness, and deceit in impeccable style. The writing is subtle and sensitive, the pace slow and meandering in some parts, chaotic and in others, until the underlying tension accelerates to reach a sinister crescendo.” Lisa Walker writes: “The Night Guest was a standout read for me. Something of a psychological thriller, it also covers a wide emotional territory. Ruth’s memories of her first love Richard and her life with her husband interweave with her increasingly bizarre daily life. The story raises themes about aging, trust and dependence. McFarlane tells this story in simple but evocative prose. Inspired, she says, by both her grandmothers having dementia, it is a finely wrought picture of a mind coming undone. This is a hard book to review without spoilers so I’m going to have to leave it there. Eerie, suspenseful and thought-provoking, I suspect that The Night Guest will be one of my top reads for this year.”

MyBeautifulEnemy

Cory Taylor’s My Beautiful Enemy has not yet been reviewed for the AWW Challenge — looking forward to reading your reviews. The synopsis tells us that “Arthur Wheeler is haunted by his infatuation with a Japanese youth he encountered in the enemy alien camp where he worked as a guard during WW2. Abandoning his wife and baby son, Arthur sets out on a doomed mission to rescue his lover from forced deportation back to Japan, a country in ruins. Thus begins the secret history of a soldier at war with his own sexuality and dangerously at odds with the racism that underpins the crumbling British Empire.”

theswanbook-wright

The Swan Book has been reviewed many times by AWW Challenge paritcipants including Chris White who found it “beautiful, tragic and breathtaking saying of it: Buy this book. It is brilliant. It made me feel almost deliriously happy, thanks to the beautiful combinations of brilliant prose and of the teasing, twisting poetry. It made me feel guilty, as a white Australian, of the Intervention and of our treatment of Aboriginals in general. It is powerful, on the topic of Aboriginal rights and their mistreatment, on the subject of boat-people and refugees and their mistreatment, on the feelings of a little girl, abused and forgotten. The mingling of Aboriginal songlines and the descriptions of birds in particular are poetically gorgeous. It also reminds me (in the best possible way) of Kafka and Borges —I cannot recommend The Swan Book any more than I do.”

All the Birds Singing

I loved All the Birds, Singing and reviewed it for the Newtown Review of Books saying: “This is a novel written from and for the senses. It is full of sounds, strong emotions and smells  bush smells, food smells, the smell of blood and fear. It is also a novel about the rhythm of life on the land, about loss, grief, and friendship, about lonely people trying to reach out and connect with one another. Part thriller, part coming-of-age story, All the Birds, Singing is probably not for those who don’t like to read about the darker side of human experience. As for me, I couldn’t stop reading and the novel came with me into my dreams the night I finished it …” Sue of Whispering Gums wrote of it: “Wyld’s writing is marvellous. The imagery is strong but not heavy-handed because it blends into the story. The rhythm changes to suit the mood. The plot contains parallels that you gradually realise are pointing the way. There’s humour and irony. I love the fact that our Jake, on the run from whatever it is, smokes “Holiday” brand cigarettes. There’s a bleakness to the novel, but it’s not unremitting. Jake, always the outsider, is tough and resourceful. She sleeps with a hammer under her pillow, but she has a soft side that is revealed mostly through her tenderness towards her animals….All the Birds, Singing is about how the past cannot “be left alone”. “We’ve all got pasts”, the shearers’ boss tells Jake early in the novel, but for some people the past must be dealt with before they can move on. The novel is also about redemption. It’s not the first novel about the subject, and neither will it be the last, but it is a finely told version that catches you in its grips and makes you feel you are reading it for the first time.”

Please keep reading and sending in your reviews, all of which can be accessed here.

About Me

I’m a freelance book reviewer, journalist, writer and editor. I blog over at Wordsville and can be found on Twitter @PaulaGrunseit

 

 

 

 

‘Writing in the Light’: Roundup of Queer/Lesbian Australian Women Writers

Visibility, invisibility, ghosts, mirrors, shadows … all these are terms that have appeared in the posts by lesbian/queer Australian women writers this month.

Ghost WifeMichelle Dicinoski, author of the memoir Ghost Wife, commented that ‘when you are a gay or lesbian or queer or trans writer, or a writer with disability, or a writer of colour, maybe you are always writing in the light, always aware in some way of your own shadow.’  Performance poet Eleanor Jackson also wrote about being in the light on a stage.  She described the discomfort that comes from being aware ‘that what I look like, as a woman, as a queer woman, as a woman of colour (light-skinned or otherwise) says something to an audience that I cannot always control, let alone neutralise.’  Yvette Walker, author of Letters to the End of Love, describes how lesbian/queer writers dip in and out of vision,We appear. We disappear. We are in. We are out. Our history (such as it is) has mostly been made on the run, written in code, whispered from one generation to another.’ 

LettersToTheEndOfLoveWalkerThis history of appearing and disappearing, of glimpses and readings and mis-readings of identity, echo Terry Castle’s words in The Apparitional Lesbian: ‘When it comes to lesbians … many people have trouble seeing what’s in front of them.  The lesbian remains a kind of “ghost effect” in the cinema world of modern life: elusive, vaporous, difficult to stop – even when she is there, in plain view, mortal and magnificent’ (2).  As Castle details in her book, this ghosting has happened for centuries, and our guest writers’ posts, with their meditations on appearing and disappearing, show that it’s still happening.

So, what can one do to increase the representation of queer/lesbian women writers?  How can one, as Eleanor writes, ‘eras[e] the kind of shame that has been appended to those categories’ and draw into question ‘the assumptions we all make about what is good, what is normal, what is acceptable, and what is valuable’?

You pick up a book.

You ask,’ as Yvette writes, ‘who am I, and somewhere, someone will answer you back.’  She found answering voices in Elizabeth Bishop and E.M. Forster, and I compiled a list of Australian lesbian/queer women writers so that there would be other voices for readers to find. 

redback-cameronThese voices were also to be found in crime fiction by lesbian/queer Australian women writers, as detailed in Bernadette Bean’s post on lesbian characters, and in interviews with two wonderful crime fiction writers, Katherine Howell and Lindy Cameron.

Lindy also suggested that straight writers shouldn’t ‘be nervous about including queer, gay, lesbian, trans and bi characters’, while readers can ‘read more widely. Don’t be put off if you think the book is ‘full’ of lesbians or gay guys.’

To this end, it was fabulous to see AWW participants reading and reviewing books by Australia’s lesbian/queer women writers.  Writer Amanda Curtin reviewed Andrea Goldsmith’s The Memory Trap, a work about the entrapment, the different faces of memory, and unrequited love.  She liked the book well enough to chase up Goldsmith’s other works – as she mentions, a good endorsement!

Deserving-death-howellSally from Oz loved Katherine Howell’s Deserving Death, writing that ‘I always briefly worry before I open a new Katherine Howell book that maybe this book is going to be the one that doesn’t quite make it when compared to the others, it never is – it’s always amazing.’  She also appreciated the way Howell made her characters human, by detailing their personal as well as their professional lives.  Howell talks more about this novel in her fabulous interview with AWW contributing editor Marisa.

AHandwrittenModernClassicMoorheadMarilyn of Me, You and Books reviewed Finola Moorhead’s A Handwritten Classic.  Moorhead’s Remember the Tarantella is one of Marilyn’s favourites, and she also enjoyed this earlier book which is ‘a compilation of [Moorhead’s] thoughts and definitions during two specific weeks of her life and is full of spontaneity.  It is literately a visual reproduction of what she wrote by hand; meaning that the reader must figure out what words are before addressing their meaning.’  Moorhead is not, Marilyn notes, ‘an easy author to read, especially if you prefer writing that is clear, linear, and conventional’, but often this makes for more rewarding reading.

RupettaSulwayThere were two reviews of Nike Sulway’s speculative fiction novel Rupetta – one by Jane from GoodReads, who found the writing ‘liquidly delicious’, while the world that Sulway created was ‘brilliantly imagined and purely itself’, although she felt that perhaps too many ideas were canvassed.  I came across this book while compiling the list of queer/lesbian women writers and it knocked my socks off.  You can read my review hereI also reviewed Michelle’s beautiful memoir Ghost Wife, which I loved for its poignancy and humour.

All these stories contribute to the process of recognising and increasing representation of lesbian/queer women writers, although categorising writers like this is of course problematic.  As Indigenous author Anita Heiss commented at a salon at Avid Reader for the Stella Prize on International Women’s Day in 2012, ‘I don’t want to be pigeon-holed as a black woman writer, I just want to be a writer.’  However, this takes time, and until then we need stories to, as Eleanor notes, ‘make “other” people, gay people, ethnic people, less unfamiliar’ so that ‘perhaps we will recognise their intrinsic humanity more easily.’

And as Michelle observes, ‘The world bubbles with stories about different kinds of lives, but often we don’t hear much about them’.  Thank you to AWW’s readers and reviewers for listening to those stories and increasing the knowledge and visibility of Australia’s lesbian/queer women writers – I hope you’ll keep reading their works.  Also, the winners of our book giveaway are Marilyn of Me, You and Books, and Sally from Oz!  I’ll be in touch about getting your books to you.

Thank you also to our wonderful guest writers, AWW editors, and to Katherine and Lindy for your contributions, which have made March an exciting and rewarding month!  I’ll be back at the end of April with my regular diversity roundup.

About Me

JessI’m Jessica White, a novelist and researcher, and I’ve been deaf since age 4 when I lost most of my hearing from meningitis.  I have a PhD from the University of London and have published two novels with Penguin, A Curious Intimacy (2007) and Entitlement (2012).  I’m currently writing a book of creative non-fiction on Queensland novelist Rosa Praed and her deaf daughter Maud.  You can find more information about me at my website.  I’m also on Twitter @ladyredjess.

March Speculative Fiction Round-up

We’ve had a bumper month on the review font; twentey-four new speculative fiction reviews have been sent to us, including all age groups. And finally, we’ve got some horror reviews after a couple of dry months, so that’s nice.

Horror

TheGateTheoryKaaronWarrenKaaron Warren’s recent collection, The Gate Theory, was reviewed by Dave Versace. He calls the stories extraordinary and writes

The stories often seem to be about one thing before wandering off in an unexpected direction like an easily distracted burglar going through linen closets instead of a safe. And stories that feel safe if a little strange at the outset take weird and usually unpleasant turns, leading away from examinations of the lives (or post-lives) of characters somewhere near the fringes of society and pushing into genuine darkness. Outright gore is not often more than hinted at, but the horror is always there, coming into sharp focus as the characters stray out beyond their depths.

ishtarIshtar is a collection of three novellas by Kaaron Warren, Deborah Biancotti and Cat Sparks which trace the past, present and future of the Assyrian/Babylonian goddess Ishtar. David Golding enjoyed the collection and reviews it here, with a few words on each novella. Finally, we had Jane Rawson wrote a short review of In-human by Anna Dusk, which she called “genuinely horrifying”.

Fantasy

power-and-majesty-250-408We had a nice batch of fantasy reviews this month, mostly of BFF (big fat fantasy) but with a few other thrown into the mix. On the BFF front, Helen Petrovic has had a bumper review month. She reviewed Tansy Rayner Robert’s Power and Majesty, the first book in her Roman-flavoured Creature Court Trilogy. She writes

The Creature Court blends the best of Roman history and culture. It combines the strength and majesty of the unseen and often warring Gods of Olympus, with the decadence and viciousness of Rome in the time of the early Caesars. The result is a dangerous, exotic, sensual world, and Velody, a female protagonist up to the challenge (just the way I like them!), must face enemies at every turn.

Daughter-of-the-forestGoing back a decade (in terms of publication date), Helen also reviewed Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier, which I believe was the author’s very first novel. Set in a magical Ireland it’s a retelling of the Grimms’ fairytale Six Swans, which Helen found hard to put down and calls a delight to read.

seaheartsLess BFF and more fairytale-based, Helen also (I said she had a bumper month) reviewed Sea Hearts, the multi-award-winning novel by Margo Lanagan. She writes

Sea Hearts has a lot to say beneath the tale of sorrow. Lanagan gives voice to the witch herself, and through her eyes we see a world that values women only for their beauty, and leaves no place for those who do not conform.

TheLascarsDaggerGlendaLarkeBack on the BFF front, I reviewed Glenda Larke’s new book, The Lascar’s Dagger, the first in a new series. It was an excellent read, with an original setting and characters I could really care about. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a complex fantasy series which takes a look at east-west-type relations during a time of vigorous spice trade.

ChampionOfTheRoseAndreaHostAndrea K Höst’s Champion of the Rose was reviewed by Dave Versace. He describes it thusly

Andrea Höst’s Champion of the Rose is a political-mystery-romance set in a high fantasy realm with great mages, ancient magical constructs and some very daunting Fae.

And finally, on a much more contemporary note, I reviewed Bespelled by Dani Kristoff. It’s a paranormal romance set mainly in Sydney with a solid plot and compelling writing. I enjoyed it more than I expected and I also interviewed the author over on my blog.

Science Fiction

RupettaSulwayThe first Australian to win a Tiptree award was Nike Sulway for her novel Rupetta, which Jessica White reviewed this month. She writes of it

I loved the ambition of this work, the scope of its telling over so long a period, and the clever twining of strands at the end.  Sulway, assuming the reader’s intelligence and trusting us to remember details throughout the text, only resolves questions such as as those about the Oikos only just before the end.

wrong turn rawsonOn a similarly literary note, Marisa Wikramanayake interviewed Jane Rawson, author of A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmake Lists. As well as writing a narrative interview (as opposed to a direct question-answer transcription), Marisa talks a bit about the book, saying

In the book, maps have power and the folds and creases over time mean something and connect you to places in time-space. This sends Ray and Caddy from dystopian Melbourne tumbling straight into Simon and Sarah in San Francisco in the 1990s.

peacemaker - marianne de pierresFinally, adding to the pre-release popularity of Marianne de Pierres’s upcoming (in May) book, Peacemaker, I have thrown my review into the mix. It’s a sci-fi Western set in a themed nature park and future Perth. An enjoyable read for fans of any of the things I mentioned in the previous sentence.

~

About Me

I’m Tsana Dolichva and I’ve been reading and enjoying Australian speculative fiction since I first started reading “grown up” books (back before YA was its own genre). More recently, I’ve been blogging my reviews over at the creatively titled Tsana’s Reads. I irregularly blog about science in science fiction over at the Science Fiction Writers’ Guide to Space. When not reading or writing, I’m probably working towards my PhD in astrophysics.

History, Writing and Television: An Interview with Clare Wright

Clare Wright

Author of The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, Clare Wright.

Clare Wright’s history of the Ballarat Goldfields, The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, is one of the six books which have been shortlisted for this year’s Stella Prize. Described in the citation as “compulsively readable”, due to its “lively, warm, engaging narrative voice”, The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka is a history which reveals the influence of women in the events leading to the Eureka Stockade.

In an interview for the Australian Women Writers’ Challenge, Wright talks about how she wrote The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, the response of readers to her book and the place of women in Australian history.

After she wrote her first draft Wright turned to work as a consultant historian as well as working on her history documentary for ABC television, Utopia Girls. “This experience definitely contributed to the final shape of The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka”, said Wright. “I had learnt a lot about the power of narrative, as well as the audience’s need to be emotionally engaged in the experience, to be invested in the question of ‘what happens next’. A lot of material in my first draft was inherently interesting, and hadn’t been substantially written about before, but didn’t actually drive the story or principle ideas and characters in any way. That stuff all had to go.”

“Television writing taught me to kill my darlings – brutally, mercilessly.” Read the full post »

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