February has seen the addition of another 200+ reviews to the AWW challenge, an impressive achievement and I am delighted to highlight several of the contemporary fiction titles reviewed during the month.
Nicola Moriarty’s second novel, Paper Chains (Random House 2013) has garnered the most reviews this month, all of which have been overwhelmingly positive. The deceptively lighthearted introduction to Paper Chains gives way to reveal the heartbreaking secrets of two young Australian women, India and Hannah, who meet while in London. “Ms Moriarty has created a heart-warming tale of unlikely friendship, hope and divine providence…” says Marcia at Book Muster Down Under, that “…shattered [Lauredhel] into tiny pieces…” and made Bree from All the Books I Can Read “…cry (more than once actually)“.
Losing February: a story of love, sex and longing (Pan Macmillan 2013) “...straddles the thin divide between truth and fiction with the author, Susanna Freymark, admitting the events of this raw and frank novel closely parallels her own experience during a difficult period of her life” (Book’d Out). Her protagonist, Bernie is in her early forties, a writer who lives on the outskirts of Byron Bay, content in the shed she calls home. Her sexless marriage has recently ended and she shares amicable custody of her children with her ex husband. When a past love comes back into her life, Bernie re-discovers desire but Jack is married and their tortured, emotional affair triggers a disturbing slide into a world of sexual addiction in her desperate search for the meaning of love. Lisa Walker “… was gripped from the first sentence of this book…” and found it “…a raw and honest portrayal of the grief that comes from loving the wrong person.” Monique of Write Note Reviews found it “…confronting and evocative, but despite the strong and sometimes disturbing images, it’s a strangely addictive read.”
The third novel by Sara Foster, Shallow Breath (Random House 2013), begins in Western Australia and eventually spans five continents. “Inspired by her own amazing encounters during her many travels around the world, as well as a 2009 documentary film entitled The Cove which analyses and questions the dolphin hunting culture in Japan, Sara has created a fabulous novel of suspense with substantial research and, in blending fact with fiction, has indeed created a complex plot and characters with extremely strong voices capable of leading us to ask the question – how far would we go in order to stand up and fight for what we believe in?” writes Marcia at Book Muster Down Under. With it’s emphasis on animal conservation, Lauren of The Australian Bookshelf, was able to “…appreciatete the research and the underlying messages in the story.” while Bree from All the Books I Can Read was drawn in by the “…wonderful portrayal of family and fractured connections...”
Amanda Curtain of Looking Up/Looking Down recommends Elsewhere in Success (Fremantle Press, 2013) by debut novelist and psychologist, Iris Lavell about Harry and Louisa, who look like an ordinary couple, they live in an ordinary house in an ordinary street in a suburb called Success, and “…reminds us that ‘ordinary’ does not mean ‘simple’—or perhaps just that there is no such thing as an ordinary life.”
Lisa Walker earned reviews for both of her titles, Liar Bird (Harper Collins 2012) and Sex, Lies and Bonsai (Harper Collins 2013). Peta-Jo gave Liar Bird five stars writing, “To say I felt I’d found my
best friend new favourite author wouldn’t be stretching the truth.” and Bree of All The Books I Can Read wants to re-read it after finding “Sex, Lies & Bonsai a very enjoyable novel, refreshingly real and distinctly Australian in voice and setting with quirky characters that you’ll end up coming to care about…”
Rural Fiction continues to be a popular genre with readers. Blackwattle Lake (Hachette 2012) by Pamela Cook invites the reader into contemporary Australian small town life. For me (Shelleyrae at Book’d Out), “The moment Eve swore, lit a cigarette and poured herself a drink while her kelpie, Banjo, lay panting at her feet, I knew we were going to get along. “, and both Paula from My Bookshelf and I felt the lack of romance a refreshing point of difference for this debut novel. Purple Roads (Allen & Unwin 2012) by Fleur McDonald earned a review from Bree from All The Books I Can Read while Lauren from The Australian Bookshelf read and reviewed Rachael Treasure’s Jillaroo (Penguin 2002).
If none of these contemporary titles pique your interest, there are more to browse on the AWW Review Listings page.
What contemporary fiction novel will you be adding to your TBR list this month?
My name is Shelleyrae Cusbert I am a mother of four children, aged 6 to 16, 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 (see obsessive!) and featured more than 35 Australian women writers. 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. While I have a degree in Education, I hope to gain a diploma in librarian studies in the near future.