‘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.

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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.

Aurealis Awards Finalists

In February, the list of finalists for the Aurealis Awards was announced. The Aurealis Awards are, as the website says, Australia’s premier speculative fiction awards, and are judged by a series of panels for different categories. You can see the full list of finalists in a PDF at this link, and I’ve reproduced some of them below. Mainly I’ve skipped the short story categories, since many of the shortlisted stories appear in the anthologies and collections also shortlisted, and also because people don’t tend to review isolated short stories anyway. I’ve highlighted the women shortlisted in purple (this is the AWW blog, after all) and the reviewer names listed afterwards point to reviews submitted to us of the relevant book.

Aurealis Awards Finalists

BEST CHILDREN’S BOOK
TheCloudRoadCarmodyKingdom of the Lost, book 2: Cloud Road by Isobelle Carmody (Penguin Group Australia)Shaheen, Nalini Haynes
Refuge by Jackie French (Harper Collins)
Song for a scarlet runner by Julie Hunt (Allen & Unwin)
The four seasons of Lucy McKenzie by Kirsty Murray (Allen & Unwin)
Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan (Hachette Australia)
Ice Breaker: The Hidden 1 by Lian Tanner (Allen & Unwin)

Unfortunately, we don’t have that many reviews for children’s books. Perhaps someone would like to take on the challenge of reviewing them?

BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL
The Big Dry by Tony Davies (Harper Collins)
Hunting by Andrea Höst (self-published)Tsana, Dave Versace
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Allen & Unwin)Shaheen, Tsana
Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near (Random House Australia)Elimy, Tsana, Shaheen
The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn (University of Queensland Press) Bree, Shannon (Giraffe Days)

Great to see YA so well-represented!

Hunting-Andrea_host these broken stars kaufman sky-so-heavy-zorn Fairytales for Wilde Girls

BEST HORROR NOVEL
The Marching Dead by Lee Battersby (Angry Robot Books)
The First Bird by Greig Beck (Momentum)
Path of Night by Dirk Flinthart (FableCroft Publishing)
Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near (Random House Australia) — Elimy, Tsana, Shaheen

BEST FANTASY NOVEL
Lexicon by Max Barry (Hachette Australia)
A Crucible of Souls by Mitchell Hogan (self-published)
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Allen & Unwin) Shaheen, Tsana
Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix (Jill Grinberg Literary Management)
Ink Black Magic by Tansy Rayner Roberts (FableCroft Publishing)Tsana

these broken stars kaufman ink black magic roberts

BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL
Lexicon by Max Barry (Hachette)
Trucksong by Andrew Macrae (Twelfth Planet Press)
A Wrong Turn At The Office Of Unmade Lists by Jane Rawson (Transit Lounge)Marisa Wikramanayake
True Path by Graham Storrs (Momentum)
Rupetta by Nike Sulway (Tartarus Press)Jane Rawson

wrong turn rawson RupettaSulway

I should also mention that Rupetta won this year’s Tiptree Award! The first time an Australian has done so. The Tiptree is awarded for “science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender” (their website).

BEST ANTHOLOGY (highlighting by editor for this one)
The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2012 by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (Eds), (Ticonderoga Publications)
One Small Step, An Anthology Of Discoveries by Tehani Wessely (Ed) (FableCroft Publishing)Tsana, Dave Versace
Dreaming Of Djinn by Liz Grzyb (Ed) (Ticonderoga Publications)Nalini Haynes
The Best Science Fiction And Fantasy Of The Year: Volume Seven by Jonathan Strahan (Ed) (Night Shade Books)
Focus 2012: Highlights Of Australian Short Fiction by Tehani Wessely (Ed) (FableCroft Publishing)

one-small-step dreaming of djinn grzyb

Not terribly surprising that the year’s bests didn’t get reviewed (including Focus which contains only 2012 award winning stories and is similar to a year’s best), since they’re somewhat different beasts to the other two anthologies listed.

BEST COLLECTION
The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories by Joanne Anderton (FableCroft Publishing)Tsana
Asymmetry by Thoraiya Dyer (Twelfth Planet Press)Alexandra, Tsana, Dave Versace, Mark Webb
Caution: Contains Small Parts by Kirstyn McDermott (Twelfth Planet Press)Stephanie Gunn, Narrelle M Harris, Mark Web
The Bride Price by Cat Sparks (Ticonderoga Publications)Sean the Bookonaut
The Year of Ancient Ghosts by Kim Wilkins (Ticonderoga Publications) — Jason Nahrung, Sean the Bookonaut

BoneChimeCoverDraft asymmetry Caution contains small parts mcdermott the-bride-price the-year-of-ancient-ghosts

Exciting to see an all-female category that has been entirely covered by AWW participants!

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So that’s the Aurealis finalists. I’m really pleased to notice that apart from the Children’s Book category and the three year’s bests, all the shortlistees were covered by AWW participants. Well done, everyone!

Hopefully for those of you wondering what speculative fiction to pick up next, this list may have given you some inspiration.

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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.

February Round-up of Speculative Fiction for “Older” Readers

Another month, another batch of reviews. Sixteen speculative fiction reviews, in fact, were submitted to us in the past month, including YA titles. Once again, no horror titles were reviewed in the past month, which makes me sad (and is going to muck up my flow if it persists next month).

Science fiction

peacemaker - marianne de pierresThe most popular science fiction book reviewed this month was actually one that doesn’t come out until May. Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres was reviewed by both Jason Nahrung and Stephanie Gunn (both of whom obviously received advanced copies for review). I’m not sure we’ve had such early publicity for a book on AWW yet, well not in spec fic, anyway. Stephanie writes of the Australian western:

Virgin Jackson is a heroine that science fiction needs to see more of. She is real – she hesitates sometimes, and other times she tumbles head over heels into situations that the reader will fairly be screaming at her to run away from. She gets beaten up a lot, and yet she always gets up again. She breaks gender roles in a multitude of ways, and yet de Pierres hasn’t fallen back on any tropes in making her strong in this sense. She can stand with any of them men in this world, and yet she also possesses a softness and vulnerability that the reader is allowed glimpses of.

white christmas baxterOn a completely different note, Sam Still Reading reviewed White Christmas, a sci-fi romance novella by Ros Baxter. She writes:

Ros Baxter is an excellent writer in that she can develop a whole other world involving ice, space ships and aliens and make it believable in so few pages. It didn’t take long for me to picture the alien planet Tabi, our heroine, had crashed on.

And finally, in a month which saw more science fiction reviews than usual (four times as many as last month!) I reviewed Carrier, a short novel by Vanessa Garden. Although it’s marketed as YA, I think many adults who enjoy Australian post-apocalyptic stories will find much to like. It deals with some heavy issues and the ending was not quite what I expected.

Fantasy

hindsight-melanie-caseyCarpe Librum reviewed Hindsight by Melanie Casey, which sounds like a bit of a paranormal thriller, from her review. She calls it an “outstanding début”. Brenda also read and reviewed Twin Curse by Rinelle Grey, about which she writes

A romance with a difference, with magic and illusions; strength, courage and determination – the characters are excellent, the emotions real.

TheBackOfBeyondEdwinaHarveySean the Bookonaut read and reviewed The Back of the Back of Beyond by Edwina Harvey, a collection of linked humorous short stories. He writes:

Edwina hasn’t written your run of the mill urban fantasy.  It’s a cross between the tone of Cyrano de Bergerac’s proto-science fiction and something like The Secret Life of Us, only with role-players instead of trendy 20-somethings living in Saint Kilda. The stories trace the fantastical life of the author from living in share house to moving to the back of the back of beyond.

other-tree-mokOn a similarly comedic note, Stephanie Gunn reviewed The Other Tree by DK Mok. She enjoyed that the author avoided several tropes — for example there’s no romance between the two leads — and writes

It would be very easy for an author to lose any character development against the background of such an enormous plot, and Mok never does – these characters remain vivid and real the whole way through

midnight-and-moonshine-webFinally, on what I gather is a more literary note, Random Alex reviewed Midnight and Moonshine by Angela Slatter and Lisa L Hannett. She gushes about it, writing in her opening

It took me a few months to read this collection, this mosaic novel. This is no reflection on the quality of the book. Well, actually it is, but not the way you might think. See, I’d read a story, and then I’d be forced to close the book, sigh, and stare into space in order to wallow in the beauty of the prose. And then I’d have to go read something else, because (like with me and Gwyneth Jones’ Bold as Love series) sometimes too much beauty is painful and you need a break.

I think I’ll have to get my hands on this one.

~

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.

January Round-up of Speculative Fiction

Hot on the heels of the 2013 wrap-up for speculative fiction, it’s time for the January wrap-up of adult-ish speculative fiction. In the first month of the 2014 challenge we’ve already had 19 spec fic reviews (including YA and children’s books), which is a great uptake, especially since some reviewers might have only signed up to the challenge part-way through the month.

All the books reviewed so far in 2014, except one, have been fantasy of various flavours. Hopefully in the coming months we’ll see some science fiction and horror reviews as well.

Fantasy

Douglass-Hades-DaughterStarting with BFF (big fat fantasy) we had quite a selection of books reviewed. From fantasy luminary Sara Douglass, whose books kick-started modern Australian fantasy, we have a review of Hades Daughter written by Helen Petrovic. Of the brutal (in my opinion) novel, Helen writes

Douglass has been criticized for over-zealous depictions of sex and depravity in her novels, but I didn’t find this to be so. Douglass is a female-centric writer, and I think it is hard to imagine a female protagonist in a medieval setting who does not confront ‘sex-as-weapon’ – either used against her or wielded by her for advantage. I enjoyed the backdrop of the feminine world that this book so richly invokes; the roles of woman as mother and lover, and the concepts of fertility, birth and rebirth.

Black Sun Light My Way spurrierOn the topic of heavy fantasy — some might call it “grimdark”, but I have issues with that label — Jo Spurrier’s Black Sun Light My Way, got a glowing review from Nalini Haynes. It does contain spoilers for the first book in the series, Winter Be My Shield, so I’d suggest clicking through to Nalini’s review of that book first if you haven’t read it.

The-Shadows-Heart-KJ-Taylor-195x300Next on the BFF sequel front is Shaheen’s review of The Shadow’s Heart by KJ Taylor. The Shadow’s Heart is the third book in the Risen Sun trilogy (itself a sequel trilogy), set in a world populated with sentient griffins, as well as people. Shaheen writes

The exciting conclusion to The Risen Sun combines themes of redemption of karma into a riveting book full of action, tragedy, and displaced loyalties. The Shadow’s Heart rounds out the story which began five books ago with The Dark Griffin and won’t fail to enchant readers anew.

Stained Glass Monsters by Andrea K Höst (self-published)On a somewhat more self-contained note, I reviewed Andrea K Höst’s Stained Glass Monsters. There is apparently a forthcoming sequel, but it isn’t required to finish of the story. The characters were what really made this book. In my review I wrote

This was a nice read. The two main characters — Rennyn, the powerful mage who has been trained her whole life to save the world, and Kendall, the teenage orphan that coincidentally crosses her path — provide nicely contrasting points of view. Rennyn is focused on her task and saving everyone (particularly the world and protecting her brother). Kendall, on the other hand, starts off following events only because she has nothing better to do.

lord hunt huskOn a lighter (well, less BFF-y) note, Shelleyrae reviewed Shona Husk’s paranormal romance, Lord of the Hunt. This is the second book in the Court of Annwyn series, but Shelleyrae reports that it reads well as a stand-alone. She also writes

The world building is intricate and convincing. The politics and intrigue of court play out in the background of this novel as the fairies maneuver for the power of the throne.

AfterZoe-HickieHeather Kinnane reviewed AfterZoe by Amanda Hickie. I’ll let her explain what the book is about, because I think she does a good job of it:

We are told that Heaven is a place of joy and peace, where we are reunited with our loved ones after death. But what happens to those who’ve had more than one lover/spouse in their lifetimes? When the first dies and you take another, what happens when you all meet up in Heaven – how peaceful and loving with those relationships really be? This is the problem that has already been solved in AfterZoe, as the angels have introduced a drink that encourages the forgetting of your life on earth – all loved ones, and all memories are wiped, and instead everyone lives a content life, unaware there is something missing. The new problem, is that not everyone wants to forget.

other-tree-mokOn a similarly religious theme, I reviewed The Other Tree by DK Mok, about a cryptobotanist’s search for the Garden of Eden. Dragging a hapless university chaplain with her, the main character travels around the world, racing against an evil corporation to find the Tree of Life before they can exploit it.

Science Fiction

theswanbook-wrightOn a more literary and science fictional note, Chris White reviewed The Swan Book by Alexis Wright. Set in the near future, it focuses on Aboriginal people and the effects of climate change. Chris writes

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.

And his effusive review has certainly made me add it to my wish-list.

Finally, David Golding (pdf link) conducted a very thorough review with Claire Corbett, the author of When We Have Wings, a near-future SF novel. They discuss some of her thoughts and literary choices when writing about a world divided between haves and have nots (where the haves are those that can afford surgery to give themselves wings).

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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.

2013 AWW Challenge: Poetry and Short Stories

liquid-nitrogenJennifer Maiden’s win of the overall prize for the Victorian Premier’s Prize for her poetry collection Liquid Nitrogen is a boon for Australia’s women poets.  As Paula notes in her roundup of these awards, author Magdalena Ball reviewed this collection, contemplating its themes of waking and politics, and its technique of layering:

Though Maiden’s poetic description of the Carina Nebula alone is worth the price of the book, this building up of smaller things into something larger, powerful, and transformative, is exactly what Liquid Nitrogen does, taking the many cultural, political and literary characters and references, in order to create a complex theory of everything, woven together on a Maiden’s “spinning jenny.” 

Like-a-house-on-fire-kennedyShort stories also garnered recognition in the prize stakes.  Cate Kennedy’s Like a House on Fire was shortlisted for the 2013 Stella Prize and won the 2013 Steele Rudd award for short story collections offered by the Queensland Literary Awards.  It was reviewed by 6 readers for the AWW challenge – If Not, Read, Kathy, Janine, Denise, myself and Belinda - making it our our most-reviewed collection of stories.

This shows that, although winning brings literary recognition, readers are most the most important prize of all.  Happily, there were 33 reviews of poetry collections last year, eclipsing 2012’s count of 7 reviews, and 89 reviews of short stories or short story collections, up from 76 last year – an amazing effort!  Below are some highlights from the year.

Poetry

Elizabeth Hodgson, Skin paintingPhillip Ellis and Jonathon Shaw blitzed the reviews, with 10 and 8 penned respectively.  Philip paid care and attention to collections by Indigenous authors, including Oodgeroo Noonuccal’s The Dawn is at Hand, Anita Heiss’ I’m Not Racist, But … and Elizabeth Hodgson’s Skin Painting.  The latter, winner of the 2007 David Unaipon award for Indigenous writers, has ‘a level of candour running throughout the whole’, perhaps because it is, as Philip explains, ‘nonfiction poetry, poetry arising out of and engaging with the poet’s lived experience of the world and her life’.

domestic-archaeology-pilgrim-byrneLesbian relationships featured in Limen, reviewed by Sue of Whispering Gums, and Marilyn of Me, You and Books, while Phillip Ellis reviewed Domestic Archaeology, about poet Kelly Pilgrim-Byrne’s conception of a child with her partner.  Dorothy Porter’s lesbian thriller classic The Monkey’s Mask was reviewed by If Not, Read and WriteReaderly, who sums it up nicely: ‘The plotting is smart, the affair is sexy, Sydney is gritty and real, the poems are bitey and sharp – a damned fab book.’

Lilliey-realiaIn terms of other contemporary works, Jon Shaw penned an entertaining review of Kate Lilley’s Realia (in tandem with John Tranter’s Ten Sonnets) in which, piqued by Lilley’s poem “GG” on the sale of auctions from the estate of Greta Garbo, he consulted the list of said items on the web to check her source, and uncovered an image of a collection of irons.  ‘Some liberty taken as befits a poet,’ he concludes, ‘but an honest steal.’

What I enjoyed about Jon’s review is his articulation that poetry isn’t necessarily easy, as he writes, ‘Neither of these books appealed to me much on first contact, but when I came to write about them, even so spottily, I warmed to them both.’  Even if a poem seems difficult on a first reading, persistence with it pays off.  The poem opens up as you get to know it, and might even become a friend.  I look forward to reading your reviews on making the acquaintance of works by Australia’s women poets over 2014.

If you’d like to read the reviews in full, and also look at others that I haven’t had space to mention here, you had head to our Weebly pages:

January – June 2013

July — December 2013

 

Short Stories

When I look at the pages for our short story reviews, I’m always blown out of the water by the diversity of genres.  They cover speculative fiction, classics and literature, nonfiction, romance, contemporary fiction and historical fiction.  I’ve penned a snapshot of reviews from these genres below.

Caution contains small parts mcdermottReaders of spec fic/fantasy/horror/sci fi were our biggest contributors, with 34 reviews.  As Tsana mentions in her wrap-up of speculative fiction, Margo Lanagan’s collections Cracklescape (reviewed by Mel and Dave) and Yellow Cake (reviewed by Heidi, in her admirably titled Salute Your Shorts feature) were popular with readers, as was Kirstyn McDermott’s Caution: Contains Small Parts (reviewed by Stephanie, Mark and Narelle), while Thoraiya Dyer’s Asymmetry proved the most popular work after Kennedy’s Like a House on Fire, with 4 reviews (from Tsana, Alexandra, Mark and Dave).

letters-george-clooney-adelaideIn contemporary fiction, which includes literary fiction, there were 28 reviews.  It’s hard to go past the title of Debra Adelaide’s Letter to George Clooney, reviewed by Kylie in the Newtown Review of Books.  Although she found it an engaging read, she was disappointed that some of the stories were so similar, especially as ‘one of the attractions of the short story to both writers and readers is the opportunities the form allows for experimentation with structure, voice and narrative’.

great unknown meyerAngela Myer, editor of The Great Unknown, pulled together a selection of stories from some of Australia’s finest writers to unsettle her readers.  Also reviewed by Kylie, it sounds like the book is a corker, with novelist Krissy Kneen opening the proceedings with ‘a genuinely spooky tale about a sleepwalking woman and her watchful husband’.

It was also good to see women of diverse heritage being reviewed, with WriteReaderly commenting on Merlinda Bobis’ White Turtle.  She found it ‘competent enough’, but wasn’t enamoured, and recommended that readers pick up Bobis’ Fish Hair Woman for a more satisfying read.

dear ruth parryRomance stories also featured strongly, with 22 works reviewed.  Many of these were single stories, such as Bronwyn Parry’s ‘Dear Ruth’ (reviewed by Brenda, one of our prolific reviewers, and Jess) and Robin Thomas’ ‘Bonjour Cherie’ (reviewed by Lauren).

There were also two reviews of classics by Sue of Whispering Gums, who pays detailed attention to the use of language and its unsettling effects in Barbara Baynton’s ‘Scrammy ‘and’ and ‘A Dreamer’.  Historical fiction featured twice, in ‘The Convict’s Bounty Bride‘ and ‘The Last Gladiatrix‘, both reviewed by Lauren.  Finally, there was one book of nonfiction, Bush Nurses, reviewed by Marcia.

In all, it seems like reading short stories are an excellent way to sample the diversity of talent in Australia’s women writers.  If you’re pressed for time (as so many of us are!), reading stories is a great way to participate in the AWW Challenge in 2014.

As with poetry, if you’d like to see these reviews in their entirety, please head to the Weebly pages listed below.

January – June 2013
July — December 2013

 

About Me

JessI’m Jessica White, a writer and researcher.  I have a PhD from the University of London and have published two novels with Penguin, A Curious Intimacy (2007) and Entitlement (2012). My short stories and poetry have been published in OverlandSoutherlyIsland and the Review of Australian Fiction.  You can find more information about these at my website.  I’m also on Twitter @ladyredjess.

Speculative fiction in 2013, a wrap-up

2013 has been a pretty good year for speculative fiction reviews being submitted to the AWW Challenge. We had 258 reviews over the year, with more submitted during the first half of the year than the second, but in about the same ratios as the overall difference between first and second half of the year activity among participants. Overall, reviews tagged as speculative fiction made up 14% of all submitted reviews, which ain’t bad. By my count, 69 reviewers posted at least one review to the challenge and 105 authors were reviewed at least once. A pretty good turnout. Book title links below go to reviews participants have posted.

stray-hostThe most reviewed author this year may come as a surprise to some (but perhaps not to those who’ve read her): Andrea K Höst, the self-published author of And All the Stars, Hunting, The Touchstone Trilogy and Stained Glass Monsters (and others not reviewed this year). Her science fiction and fantasy books garnered a total of twelve reviews throughout 2013. and-all-stars-hostHere’s a sample of what Heidi @ Bunbury in the Stacks writes of And All the Stars:

Twists? This book has them. Höst managed to completely surprise me multiple times in quick succession. This is what I love about a well-done limited perspective narrative—we really don’t see it coming if they don’t see it coming. It’s also one of those rare stories where I love the side characters even more than those featured.

TheCloudRoadCarmodyFollowing closely being Andrea K Höst, with ten reviews each were Isobelle Carmody and Margo Lanagan. Isobelle Carmody had quite a variety of books reviewed, with only a couple reviewed twice: The Wilful Eye (as editor of the anthology), Green Monkey Dreams, Metro Winds, The Cloud Road, The Red Wind, The Keeping Place, The Stone Key and The Sending. It’s great to see a variety of books being reviewed, from anthologies, to books for younger and older readers.

By contrast most of Margo Lanagan’s reviews were for Sea Hearts, although the short story collections Cracklescape and Yellow Cake and the novel Tender Morsels also got a look in. Of Cracklescape, Mel @ Adventures of a Subversive Reader cracklescapewrites

Margo Lanagan’s writing is like poetry – even if you’re not exactly sure what’s going on in the story (and at times I definitely felt like this – it’s been great thinking it over for a couple of days) you’re carried away by the pure beauty of the words. Her characters feel very real, like people you should know, even if they’re ghosts who reside in a locked drawer. A lot of people talk about the genre bending quality of the author’s work and I can understand that – this is a very accessible collection of stories, even if speculative fiction isn’t really your thing. It wouldn’t be out of place with a literary collection of short stories.

finnikin-of-the-rock-483-700A popular YA author I want to mention is Melina Marchetta, whose Lumatere Chronicles (Finnikin of the Rock, Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn) collectively gathered nine reviews. Several readers making their way through more than one book in the series throughout the year. Jess had this to say about the first book

‘Finnikin of the Rock’ is an exceptional narrative about the bleakness of the world, the struggle of humanity when exiled from everything we know and take for granted. It’s an honest, in your face sort of look at the varying levels of defeat and despair while also presenting a small spark of hope which grows as the story continues. It’s a world that although not our own, we can easily relate to.

shifting-reality-jansenAuthors who got reviewed seven times are Patty Janesn, Kirstyn McDermott and Paula Weston, all of whom write quite different sorts of books. Patty Jansen mostly writes science fiction (His Name in Lights, Shifting Reality, Charlotte’s Army, The Shattered World Within, Trader’s Honour) with a bit of fantasy thrown in as well (Fire & Ice). Kirstyn McDermott mostly writes horror with two novels (Madigan Mine and Perfections) madigan-mineand a collection of short stories (Caution: Contains Small Parts) reviewed for the challenge. Paula Weston, on the other hand, writes YA, with her two books Shadows and Haze reviewed multiple times.

full-moon-rising-keri-arthurThere were also three authors reviewed six times each. Keri Arthur, veteran paranormal romance author, was reviewed for her books Full Moon Rising, Dancing With The Devil, Chasing the Shadows, Hearts in Darkness and Kiss the Night Goodbye. Karen Miller, who writes BFF (big fat fantasy) novels as well as a series of steampunky urban fantasy under the name K E Mills, was reviewed for Blight of Mages and the K E Mills books The Accidental Sorcerer, Witches Incorporated, Wizard Squared and Wizard Undercover. miller-blight-of-magesA relatively new author of BFF is Jo Spurrier, whose first two books Winter Be My Shield and Black Sun Light My Way were both reviewed for the challenge, the latter five times.

asymmetryFinally I want to mention the authors who got five reviews each. Ideally I’d love to mention every author and every review, but that might make this post a little unwieldy! With five reviews each we have Thoraiya Dyer, mostly for her short story collection Asymmetry, but also for her novella The Company Articles of Edward Teach. Glenda Larke, author of many BFF books, garnered reviews for her recently re-released first novel, Havenstar, as well as for her Stormlord trilogy (The Last Stormlord, Stormlord Rising and Stormlord’s Exile). Last-stormlordTara Moss, who also writes crime (but whose crime books I’m not counting here), gathered reviews for her two most recent urban fantasies The Spider Goddess and The Skeleton Key. And there was also Katie W Stewart, author of fantasy books for all ages. Her reviewed books in 2013 were The Dragon Box, The Mark of the Dragon Queen, Treespeaker and Song of the Jikhoshi, the latter two making up a series.

Of course there were a lot of other books and authors reviewed and unfortunately I can’t list them all here. You can browse all the reviews posted in 2013 here (first half of the year) and here (second half of the year). One last thing I noticed when I was preparing this wrap-up was that the majority of speculative fiction books reviewed were published very recently. 38% (more than a third) were published in 2013 and 66% (two thirds) were published in 2012 or 2013. Obviously it’s great that lots of new releases are being reviewed but it would also be great if more back-list titles were being reviewed and talked about, since that’s the sort of thing that keeps older books in print.

~

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.

November Spec Fic round-up (hold the YA)

It’s been a shorter gap between round-ups than average so there aren’t as many reviews to report as usual. Nevertheless, readers have linked us reviews covering all three of my usual sub-genres, so that’s nice.

Horror

Caution contains small parts mcdermottThe unambiguous horror review from the past month came from Narrelle M Harris, who reviewed Caution: Contains Small Parts, a collection of stories by Kirstyn McDermott. I suggest you go read the entire review, which is not very long and which I would have liked to be able to quote in full. But a snippet:

As a writer, Horn creeped me out the most as a cautionary tale of unintended consequences. The resolution of What Amanda Wants was horrific, and I feel like maybe I’m a terrible person for finding it so satisfying as well.

Fantasy

dancing-with-the-devilThe reviewing cake was very much taken by Keri Arthur this month, with Teddyree (who must have been on a review-linking roll) posting four reviews of her books. The reviewed books are Dancing with the Devil, Hearts in Darkness, Chasing the Shadows and Kiss the Night Goodbye and they form the Nikki & Michael series (in the order I’ve listed them, I think). To give you an idea about the series, Teddyree sums-up the first book:

Nikki is a private investigator with strong psychic abilities – telekinesis  telemetry, telepathy (love it, I gobble up that stuff) she’s also stubborn as a mule and sometimes just as stupid. 300 year old tortured vamp Michael is a bit of a hotty but having been around a while he’s carrying baggage.

So go give Keri Arthur and this series a shot if that sounds like your sort of thing.

ember-ashThe other fantasy book reviewed this month is the Aurealis-winning  Ember and Ash by Pamela Freeman and falls more into the BFF (big fat fantasy) category rather than urban fantasy. Faith, who had not read Freeman’s earlier books in the same series, writes that she things “reading the earlier books would make it easier to connect to some of the characters”, even though Ember and Ash follows a different generation of characters. As someone who has read the earlier books, however, I found them a more engaging and memorable read all-round. The earlier series starts with Blood Ties.

Science Fiction

reckless-rebellionAnd we have one science fiction review rounding-out our categories. Brenda read and reviewed Reckless Rebellion by Rinelle Grey, which is the second book in the Barren Planet SF romance series. (The first book is Reckless Rescue.) Brenda enjoyed it and writes:

The new characters which were introduced are well crafted and easy to know. Getting to know Tyris’ family was great, especially his younger brother Kerit, and it’s exciting to learn the third in the series will be Kerit’s story. I have no hesitation in recommending Aussie author Rinelle Grey and her Barren Planet series to all readers of fantasy and science fiction.

~

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.

October round-up of speculative fiction that isn’t YA

This past month’s submitted spec fic reviews have been heavily weighted towards “adult” titles, instead of the usual roughly even split with YA and children’s. In the past month, we’ve had 17 spec fic reviews, of which 13 were for “adult” titles.

Science Fiction

theswanbook-wrightBoth the science fiction books reviewed this month were very much on the literary end of the spectrum. The Swan Book by Alexis Wright garnered two reviews, by David Golding and Marilyn. I have to admit, without having read the book I was torn as to which genre to classify it as, but I get the impression that it’s set in the future, so science fiction it is. Marilyn (who for context is American) says of this indigenous novel:

Wright’s skillful writing constantly interweaves the beautiful and the ugliness of life.  Her prose is sophisticated, unique, and fast-paced enough to carry readers along with the narrative.  When I re-read the first chapter, however, I discovered an additional layer of richness that I had missed the first time through.  Probably Australians will pick up more of her allusions to the place and its politics.

David says something similar, and adds that it was “one of those books that teach you how to read them.”

Jacobson, The sunlit zoneThe other rather literary science fiction book reviewed this month was The Sunlit Zone by Lisa Jacobson, a verse novel. It was reviewed by David Golding, who read it through a science fictional gaze. (I must interject that his conclusions and questions about the ending are very similar to my own, when I read it earlier in the year.) David found it readable, noting that Jaconbson has a gift for imagery.

Horror

Caution contains small parts mcdermottTwo horror books were reviewed in the past month. Kirstyn McDermott’s collection of short stories, Caution: Contains Small Parts was reviewed by Stephanie Gunn and Mark Webb. Stephanie writes

McDermott’s collection is knife sharp, filled with beautiful prose and unsettling worlds and characters who provide much insight and reflection on the darknesses in humanity.  Even if you don’t tend to read horror, I recommend this collection highly (as well as all of McDermott’s work).

Mark says that “These are generally speaking not high action pieces, rather they twist horror tropes to find interesting ways of exploring characters  and merging together the grotesque and the beautiful.”

mistification-warrenThe other horror book reviewed was Mistification by Kaaron Warren, a strange novel which follows a real magician as he seeks out stories to learn about the world. It’s not a fast read, instead one I enjoyed dipping in and out of over several weeks. Ultimately a story about stories, it was not a difficult book to come back to.

Fantasy

Enamoured CurtisAs per usual, we had more fantasy reviews than the other subgenres. Almost all of them fit into the BFF (big fat fantasy) category that I like to use as a more neutral term than “high fantasy” or “epic fantasy”. That said, I will start with the non-BFF book, Enamoured by Shannon Curtis. Jess reviewed Enamoured, a modern day fairytale retelling, saying

Enamoured is the perfect little novella for any fairytale lover, or simply someone looking for a bit of fun in the form of a short, sweet and romantic read with a tad bit of suspense thrown in for good fun.

king-breakerSean the Bookonaut reviewed Rowena Cory Daniells’s King Breaker, the conclusion to the King Rolen’s Kin series. He says

I felt more keenly than ever, the tension in the interpersonal relationships in this novel. Indeed much of the fighting, much of what would usually be set battles is glossed over fairly quickly. … One of Daniells’ strengths though, is making you care about the characters and she is equally well versed in placing them in physical or emotional danger, so don’t think a lack of gutsy battles is going to give you an easy ride.

dark-divideJennifer Fallon garnered two reviews this past month, for The Dark Divide and Reunion, the second and third books in her Rift Runners trilogy.  Of The Dark Divide, Shaheen writes

The Dark Divide is, dare I say it, a more fulfilling read than The Undivided, which is incredibly rare in a sequel. It builds upon the world admirably, and lets readers explore new characters, new realities, while at the same time giving a deeper look at the characters we know and love. This series … would especially appeal to readers familiar with urban fantasy who are looking for a different kind of novel, but is perfect for any reader to pick up.

reunion-fallonI found Reunion to be an excellent read, writing in my review:

One of the things I’ve always thought Fallon did quite well is write complexly motivated characters. Not only that, but the way she weaves their story lines together to form an intricate web is masterful. At every turn each character does the thing that absolutely seems most right to them in the situation but that has ramifications they could not have predicted.

bloodofwhispers-madson

 

Finally, Devin Madson’s début novel, The Blood of Whisperers, garnered two reviews, from myself and Sean the Bookonaut, both of us enjoying the feudal Japanese-flavoured fantasy read. Sean writes that, “The Blood of Whisperers is a tale feudal infighting and political manoeuvring with some interesting psionic magic thrown in for good measure.” I would add that “The Blood of Whisperers is primarily a story about vengeance. Almost everyone wants revenge, and will stop at nothing to get it.” It’s a good read for fans of political fantasy.

~

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.

Short Stories Roundup July-October 2013

Over the last four months there have been twenty reviews of short stories, either standing along or as part of a collection.  Readers are still looking for bite-sized pieces of life to devour, which is great to see!

What is Australia ForIn the literary fiction genre, Sue of Whispering Gums penned a review of Romy Ash’s ‘The Basin’, published in an edition of Griffith Review themed ‘What is Australia For?’.  The story was inspired by the man-made Lake Argyll in the Kimberleys, and is imbued with a tension between what is natural and what is artificial.  As Sue writes, it’s ‘about the costs – personal and environmental – of mankind’s belief in its ability to control nature.’

The White TurtleWriteReaderly was inspired by Merlinda Bobis’ Fish-Hair Woman to pick up White Turtle, Merlinda’s collection of short stories.  She found it ‘competent enough, interesting in terms of cultural awareness of the Philippines and a Filipina experience in Australia’, but wasn’t enamoured.  I’ve also been prompted to add this collection to my reading list, having read and enjoyed Merlinda’s novel as well.

Danny-boy-mattaLynette Washington reviewed a couple of stories from the Amanda Lohrey Selects series, published by Spineless Wonders.  She loved ‘Danny Boy’ by Marian Matta, who ‘builds an aching suspense crafted carefully around a core of empathy and slowly reveals, with immaculate precision, the truth that is not so deeply hidden after all.’

Yellow-cakeThere were several collections of speculative fiction stories canvassed, including Margo Lanagan’s Yellowcake.  Lanagan’s mind, writes Heidi of Bunbury in the Stacks, ‘works in short stories’, and even her novel The Brides of Rollrock Island (or Sea Hearts), ‘was fractured into smaller narrative pieces, almost making it in itself a short story collection’.  With this collection, Heidi ‘fell in love in ten pages, was horrified in 30, and felt no great loss when 20 were completely lost on me’.  As a fellow Lanagan lover, I know exactly what she means.

the-year-of-ancient-ghostsJason Nahrung reviewed the first short story collection of veteran speculative fiction writer Kim Wilkins, The Year of Ancient Ghosts.  In Wilkins’ stories, Nahrung writes, ‘Character is queen … the fears and ambitions of the heroines pulling us through the realistically rendered worlds’.  Sean the Bookonaut also wrote a passionate review of this collection, and was prompted to ask, ‘How often does a collection of novellas cause you to go and borrow every book you can by the author?’  High praise indeed!  Sean also comments on the strength of the female characters, and warns readers to ‘have the tissues handy’ while reading the final story, ‘The Lark and the River’.  Sean’s impression of this story – it ‘left me so immersed that I had to remind myself that it was fiction’ – had me adding the collection to my To Be Read pile.

tospinadarkerstairTsana reviewed a chapbook, To Spin a Darker Stair, which consisted of two stories by Faith Mudge and Catherynne M Valente.  The first, ‘A Delicate Architecture’ is ‘surreal in the way that some fairytales are, but it’s lovely’ while the second, ‘The Oracle’s Tower’ gives voice ‘to a character marginalised in the traditional telling’ which ‘allows Mudge to put a very different spin on the tale’ – a darker one, by the sounds of Tsana’s review.  She concludes that it’s ‘A very thin volume that punches above its weight in class’.

secret-diary-portmanRomance titles were also reviewed, including a handful by Lauren at The Australian Bookshelf.  ‘Bonjour Cherie’ was a ‘short and sweet read by Australian author Robin Thomas’.  Lauren found it enjoyable, but the protagonist, who is obsessed with going to Paris, proved irritating with her lack of foresight.  Viveka Portman’s ‘The Secret Diary of Lady Catherine Bexley’, by contrast, was a ‘quick, saucy read and one of the better erotica shorts that I’ve read thus far.’

What a variety of stories reviewed across these genres!  I haven’t covered all of them here, so if you’d like some more recommendations, check out our listings at the short stories page from January to June, or July to December.

About Me

JessI’m Jessica White, a writer and researcher.  I have a PhD from the University of London and have published two novels with Penguin, A Curious Intimacy (2007) and Entitlement (2012).  My short stories have been published in OverlandSoutherlyIsland and the Review of Australian Fiction.  You can find more information about me at my website.  I’m also on Twitter @ladyredjess.

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