Did you know that the Australian Women Writers Challenge has a bookshelf at Goodreads.com? Currently it lists 1385 books and is great resource for challenge participants to find books to suit your genre preferences. You don’t need to be a member of the site to view or browse the bookshelf.

My fellow co-contributors and I make an effort to add new titles when we come across them, but if you are a member of the AWW Challenge group on Goodreads, or join, you can help too. There are two options for you,

1. You can post a message in the forum thread –Building Our Group Bookshelf– with the details of the book/s (title/author/publisher/isbn) and a moderator will take care of it

2. You can add the book yourself

  • Click on the bookshelf link on the right hand side of the group page
  • Use the search box to search Goodreads for the book by author, title or isbn.
  • Click Add and please select the Australian women writers shelf and the shelf (or shelves) that best reflects the genre of the book. (if the book has already been added it will be greyed out)

If you can’t find any record of a book you are reading for the challenge on Goodreads (makes sure you do a search via ISBN as well as title) please post the details  (title/author/publisher/isbn) in the forum thread –Building Our Group Bookshelf and the book will be added. GR librarian privileges are needed to add new books to the database.

We want this bookshelf to be a valuable resource and would appreciate your help in making it so.

Here are some of the latest contemporary novels added to the bookshelf and reviewed by challenge participants


The Best Man by Dianne Blacklock (PanMacmillan)

Everything seems to be going perfectly in Madeleine’s life – she’s a successful publicist in a book publishing house, and through work has met the love of her life, children’s author Henry Darrow, who she’s convinced is the loveliest man on earth. Things haven’t always been so perfect for Madeleine, though. When her father died suddenly, it hit her hard; at the same time she struggled with the demands of her lifestyle and felt as though her life was spinning out of control. Until she met Henry. Now they are set to marry and live happily ever after when their best man arrives in town – handsome, charming and ever attentive, Aiden is a welcome visitor. But his presence soon causes ripples in the happy couple’s world, as he brings secrets with him – and starts to unravel some of Madeleine’s. As the big day draws closer, Madeleine starts to question her commitment to Henry: Is he really the one she wants to spend the rest of her life with?”

Peta Jo writes “This is no paint-by-numbers storyline,”  and Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out thought it to be , “light and entertaining, spiked with humour and wit but it is not without depth.”



The Meaning of Grace by Deborah Forster (Vintage)

‘Mum is the reference point. If you ever get confused about anything, there she is, waiting with all her knowledge of you.”
Grace Fisher, mother of three, one day decides her husband is a sore disappointment and moves the family from Melbourne to a coastal village in Victoria. But Ian’s slow dissolution on the couch masked a depression that will harrow him into an early grave, leaving the kids with a lifetime of questioning: what happened to their father; how did he get so sad?  Between their father’s demise and Grace’s hardscrabble existence working at a local bakery, each child is left to find meaning on their own. Edie, the eldest child, locks herself into a romantic ideal so lofty that it can’t help but fail. The middle child, Juliet, struts and careens through life, filling it only with what she can seduce, steal and manipulate. Sibling rivalry between sisters proves the slowest and fiercest of burns. Love comes easily for Ted, the youngest, but when his wife abandons him to raise two daughters on his own, the perils of fatherhood are laid bare. When Grace, the distant, imperfect hub of the family, is diagnosed with terminal cancer, the siblings are forced to confront each other as adults, and come to understand their mother.

Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best writes, “Foster’s writing style came as a surprise. I was expecting something more ‘mainstream’. Why, I’m not sure – perhaps the book jacket suggests ‘mum-lit’ rather than contemporary literature. There are many passages that are simply beautiful…”



Underground Road by Sharon Kernot (Wakefield Press)

Damien, Edith, Kenneth and Mary are residents of a single street whose lives are ordinary to the last degree and as such encompass addiction and domestic violence, quiet achievements and small acts of kindness and treachery. Jack and Mary, locked at uncomfortably close quarters on Jack’s retirement, chafe and sulk and fret. Edith finds solace in her lonely life playing the pokies. Young Damien, terrified of his stepfather Marcus and the school bully, broods on revenge. And Kenneth, unhinged, wanders the streets. Lives intertwine and decisions are made. And the tension grows to its shattering climax”

Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out writes, ” Their stories unfold slowly, revealing the unsettling truth of these character’s lives behind closed doors. As realistic representatives of the social challenges in Australia today, Kernot’s characters draw attention to issues such as gambling addiction, domestic violence, bullying and mental health care. Underground Road is a moving, poignant and honest novel to challenge your social conscience.”



Mr Wigg by Inga Simpson (Hachette)

It’s the summer of 1971, not far from the stone-fruit capital of New South Wales, where Mr Wigg lives on what is left of his family farm. Mrs Wigg has been gone a few years now and he thinks about her every day. He misses his daughter, too, and wonders when he’ll see her again. He spends his time working in the orchard, cooking and preserving his produce and, when it’s on, watching the cricket. It’s a full life. Things are changing though, with Australia and England playing a one-day match, and his new neighbours planting grapes for wine. His son is on at him to move into town but Mr Wigg has his fruit trees and his chooks to look after. His grandchildren visit often: to cook, eat and hear his stories. And there’s a special project he has to finish … It’s a lot of work for an old man with shaking hands, but he’ll give it a go, as he always has.”

Lisa Walker writes, “Simpson tells us the story of an ordinary man in an extraordinary way…each moment is beautifully rendered….Quietly contemplative, Mr Wigg is about simplicity; taking joy in the moment and each day as it comes.” and recommends readers, “Turn off the computer and read slowly with a peach to hand.” and Poppy Gee agrees, “Inga Simpson draws her story with a steady hand, from the rainbow colours of the fruits, to the differing personalities of the orchard’s trees, to Mr Wigg’s daily rituals. Each word has been carefully considered, descriptions never repeat themselves, and the prose is deliciously lyrical.”


To find your next challenge read, why don’t you try browsing our Goodreads Bookshelf?



About Me

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.