The 2013 AWW Challenge  has attracted well over 300 participants in its second year and during the first month of the new year there are already 200+ reviews listed. That is an impressive contribution, especially as a number of participants identify as ‘read only’.

Of that number, around a quarter of books have been identified as contemporary fiction – novels set post mid 1900’s, and about a quarter of those do not fit neatly into a specific genre. In this post I will be highlighting some of the submitted reviews for January.

fishing-for-tigersFishing For Tigers (Picador Sept 2012) is Emily McGuire’s fourth novel of which Olivia at The Baraza writes “set in steamy Hanoi and primarily focuses on the secret affair between Mischa, a 35 year old Australian expatriate, and Cal, the 18 year old Vietnamese-Australian son of Mischa’s closest friend in Hanoi.  Maguire examines the complicated physical and emotional relationship between Mischa and Cal in the context of a Western expatriate community seeking to lose itself in Vietnam’s calm and chaos without actually having to acknowledge the realities of everyday life there.” Olivia, who has visited Hanoi, felt “Maguire writes evocatively of Hanoi’s cultural intensity and grubby beauty” but in contrast, Jacqueline at Under Review , who lived in the city for a few years in the mid 2000’s, felt  “the descriptions of Hanoi and of Misha’s life skimmed the surface and didn’t seem to come from a person who supposedly had lived there for six years”, though both agreed the book is thought-provoking and an enjoyable read. Seduction by Kate Forster (published by Penguin Australia)

From London to LA, Byron Bay to Sydney,  Kate Forster’s Seduction (Penguin Jan 2013) is a lush, compelling story about passion, betrayal, forgiveness, and the price of fame. “Glitzy, romantic and sexy” is how Marcia of Book Muster Down Under describes it but Bree of All the Books I Can Read who “was expecting a light, almost trashy beach read in the movie world …” feels it offers more and was surprised to find herself “invested in the characters”.

whisky-charlie-foxtrotAntoinetta’s review of Whisky Charlie Foxtrot by Annabel Smith (Fremantle Press Jan 2013) at Afternoon Reads caught my attention. This novel is told from the point of view of Charlie, who examines his relationship with his twin brother, who lies in coma after a tragic accident. She gave it five stars and wrote, “It’s a story about family and friendship and love that manages to be both heart breaking and heart warming.”

Debut novelist Kathryn Ledson has gained attention for Rough Diamond (Penguin Jan 2013), a contemporary genre bender, and been interviewed by both Bree at All the Books I Can Read and Shelleyrae at Book’d Out rough-diamond “Action, humour, mystery and romance blend in Rough Diamond to create a lighthearted romp with an improbable plot involving terrorists armed with a hijacked load of fertiliser, a few villainous psychopaths and a secret team of well-funded vigilantes protecting Melbourne from terrorist threats. It’s pure escapist fun, allowing the reader to fantasise about escaping their ordinary lives into the arms of a handsome, rich hero and saving the world, or at least their corner of the world, at the same time.” {Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out}

The Girl in the Hard Hat by Loretta Hill (published by Random House)The Girl in The Hard Hat by Loretta Hill (Random House Jan 2013) is the follow up to the popular The Girl in the Steel Capped Boots reviewed multiple times in 2012. The author returns to the Pilbara with a new protagonist, engineer Wendy Hopkins. Monique at Write Note Reviews noted “the storyline was well-executed and I think, even better than the first book”. Marg of The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader praises the authenticity of the setting and the characters.

Other contemporary novels reviewed during January include The Woman in Black by Madeleine St John at Booklover Book Reviews, The Last Chance Cafe by Brenda, and Kylie Ladd’s After the Fall by Kevin Rennie at Red Bluff Review.

You can browse a list of all the contemporary fiction novels listed HERE as they are submitted.

What contemporary fiction novels have you read during January that you would recommend to other participants?

Let me know in the comments…