Welcome to the first round up for General Fiction for 2017. Let me introduce myself, I’m Katt: I read and review mostly indie authors books on my blog Coffee2words and post reviews on Goodreads, under the alias Lynxie. I’ll be sharing the monthly round ups for General Fiction with Christine Sun, so stay tuned for her round ups too.
This month we had a total of 58 reviews read and written in January. The books reviewed ranged from big names, like Hannah Kent, Jackie French and Mem Fox, through to some of the perhaps lesser known, but equally as awesome authors, including Annie Seaton and Julie Gittus.
Our most prolific reviewer of General Fiction this month was Pearl Maya writing on her blog with three reviews posted in January.
The reviews spanned a wide variety of books, from short story collections through to a number of literary fiction titles including some of the below:
Pearl Maya reviewed Amanda Lohrey’s A short history of Richard Kline:
The book overflows with themes of science v religion, philosophy v psychology, reality v the imagined (both the imagination of dreams as well as the expected version of reality – what the world expects us to do, how to react, how to present ourselves) all of which swirl around the ideas of ‘who am I’ and ‘why am I here?’.
Some of the characters appear to be uninterested in answering these questions, or perhaps already have answers that sit easily with their psyches or a pre-existing satisfaction with their lot in life. Other characters research, seek experiences or read extensively either in a search or to confirm their existing points of view.
Tien from Tien’s Blurb read Emily Bitto’s The Strays and loved it.
This book pulled me in two opposite directions. On the one hand, I am just like the young Lily who was fascinated and absolutely loved the freedom in the Trentham’s family home. But on the other hand, as a young parent, I was absolutely horrified by the way the children’s needs were ignored. Of course, these children, whilst appreciating their freedom, also resented their parents for not being parents.
The novel opens with the adult Lily, with a grown child of her own, living a ‘normal’ boring life. She received a letter from her best friend whom she has not been in contact for a very long time. We didn’t find out exactly the reason why until near the end but this reason blew me away.
Rosalie read and reviewed Tara June Winch’s After the Carnage a collection of Australian short stories that cover a wide variety of subjects.
This eclectic collection of short stories confirms the ingenuity of the author. Each story is written from a different point of view; her characters varying from Australian to other ethnic origins, males to females, migrants and ex-pats to refugees, and affluent to working class. Similarly, the stories are set in diverse locations from Australia to France to the high seas.
The themes are blunt; incompatible relationships, dysfunctional families, social class clashes, domestic violence and abuse, and Winch’s writing is often acerbic but frequently there is a last line when self-realisation gives a story a positive finale. This is wonderful writing.
Pearl also reviewed Anne Buist’s Medea’s Curse and wrote a glowing review.
Medea’s Curse is brilliant… Unlike most crime novels that provide little past a good read, Buist seems to enjoy challenging the response of readers to issues already mentioned as well as the overall nature of truth v justice: what is to be done when the community response to a circumstance may not correlate with a court’s response; how does motive or background change things; is it alright to do wrong to get a right outcome; and what is truth anyway.
Trigger Warning: This book involves themes of mental health, mothers who kill their children as well as child abuse.
Alas, it can’t be all rainbows and cupcakes; Lisa wrote a 1-star honest review of Christine Dibley’s To The Sea on Goodreads that included some interesting insights into why the book just didn’t work for her.
I wanted to like this so much more than I did. It had all the ingredients to appeal directly to me: a Tasmanian setting, an intriguing mystery, a story that drew on Irish mythology and history, a focus on wild, windswept shores. It was also well rated on GoodReads, recommended by the woman who sold me the book and has a drop-dead gorgeous cover. I thought I was in for a great read.
Instead, To The Sea was almost completely frustrating to read. To begin with, there’s simply too many characters.
The story is also weighed down by exposition.
To the Sea is Christine Dibley’s first book and it feels like it. The writing feels clumsy, sometimes focused on unnecessary details, awkwardly worded and I don’t really know what that ending was about. Dibley does show promise – there is a lot of intriguing ideas here and the story she created was a compulsive read.
If you want to find out what other general fiction books were reviewed this month, check out our AWW database.
About me: Katt reads and reviews mostly indie authors books on her blog Coffee2words and posts reviews on Goodreads, under the alias Lynxie. She blogs frequently and loves pretty much anything to do with books and writing, including editing. She is a Book Nerd and wears that badge with pride.