Welcome to the Australian Women Writers Diversity Round Up for March 2020 (albeit a few days late – in April!). It seems that our lovely reviewers have been working hard – we’ve had 5 more reviews of books this month than last month that have been tagged with ‘diversity’ – 22 books received 29 reviews this month.

I do hope you and your loved ones are well in these strange times. More than ever I’ve been finding that losing myself in a book is a great way to escape for a while.

If your library and local bookshop have closed, remember you can read ebooks on your phone, tablet or ipad. Most online bookstores are still open for business and many libraries are increasing the catalogue of ebooks they have available.

Remember you can join in the Australian Women Writers Challenge at any time – authors need our help to spread the word about their books now more than ever! Sign up here.

“Amazing” Irish crime fiction: The Good Turn, by Dervla McTiernan

the good turn - mctiernanThe Good Turn is Dervla McTiernan’s third novel in the Detective Cormac Reilly series. Set in the pretty Irish seaside town of Roundstone, it sounds like the perfect read if you’re looking for some escapism (as long as you’re also up for some serious police corruption, a tragedy and a little girl’s mysterious silence).

It’s had 5 rave reviews linked in this period (it was published 24 Feb), so it’s clearly popular with our reviewers!

1GIRL2MANYBOOKS gave it 10/10 and called the whole series “amazing!”:

This series is just incredibly well plotted and researched and just…..hugely, hugely good. I was gripped by this, I didn’t want it to end even though I wanted the answers so badly and to see everything come to light.

shelleyrae @ Book’d Out found it “brilliant” and “thrilling” with “vivid descriptions”. Cass Moriarty gave it 5 stars: “a complex and interesting crime novel with an abundance of well-drawn characters”. Kali Napier gave it a short but emphatic 5-star review:

Oh my word, McTiernan has given us the best of the series so far. Superbly plotted and full of tension. If this isn’t made into a Netflix drama I’ll be amazed.

And if you’re new to Cormac Reilly, you’ll be pleased to know that Ashleigh Meikle at The Book Muse assures us that you don’t need to read the first 2 books first – starting with this one is just fine! Although she does plan to go back and read the first two now.

Euphoria Kids, by Alison Evans

Alison Evans wrote this YA book for trans kids so they could “read this book to be proud of who they are, and imagine wonderful magic lives for themselves.”

Babs has been cursed, and sometimes she’s invisible. Teachers and classmates often don’t see her. Iris grew from a seed in the ground and identifies as non-binary. One day, Iris can see Babs. Iris and Babs have a lot in common: they are both connected to the magic in the world around them.

Veronica at The Burgeoning Bookshelf  gave it 5 stars and absolutely loved it:

Euphoria Kids is a tender, touching story seeped with magic bringing to life the earth, the plants and all things magical.
I finished this book wanting more!

Jennifer gave it 4 stars and described it as “a beautiful story of acceptance, identity and magic.”

Recently I read my first novel that had a non-binary main character, referred to as ‘them’ and ‘their’: Finna, by Nino Cipri. It was disconcerting for the first few dozen pages, but after I got used to it, it was just another gender. I think there’s a lot to be said for all of us to read at least one book this year featuring a non-binary character – the sooner it becomes a new normal, the better.

A Testament of Character, Sulari Gentill

a testament of characters sulari gentillThis is the 10th in the highly popular Rowland Sinclair Mystery series and Sulari Gentill doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all. Brenda recommends you start with Book #1 for this series – she’s read all of them and loves #10, set in 1930s Boston and New York: “highly recommend it to all fans of historical mysteries, but also recommend starting at the beginning.”

Ashleigh from The Book Muse calls it a “spectacular story” with a depiction of antisemitism that’s very relevant to modern times:

This is a part of history that seems to be repeating itself today – and books like this are a stark and much needed reminder not to turn away, and Sulari is doing this exceptionally well, and her research gives such great authenticity to the period…

The Banksia Bay Beach Shack, by Sandie Docker

The Banksia Bay Beach Shack sandie dockerPublished on 17 March, I’ve seen this one popping up around the socials. It looks like pure good fun. Brenda calls it “Another spectacular, heartwarming story of small-town Australia by Aussie author Sandie Docker!” Amanda from Mrs B’s Book Reviews hails it as:

another breathtaking tale of small town Australian life, decades old secrets, love, family, connections and hope… a story that reminds us that sometimes we need to abandon all our fears and take a leap of faith. Docker’s third novel is a stirring read that truly tugs at all your heart strings.

From the blurb: When Laura discovers an old photo of her grandmother, Lillian, with an intriguing inscription on the back, she heads to the sleepy seaside town of Banksia Bay to learn the truth of Lillian’s past. But when she arrives, Laura finds a community where everyone seems to be hiding something.

This is one I’m definitely adding to my To-Be-Read list!

More reviews of books featuring diversity

Blackbirds by Aiki FlinthartThis month I reviewed Aiki Flinthart’s Blackbirds Sing, a wonderful 15th-century historical fiction novel. I loved the diversity and small jabs at the attitude to women in the fifteenth century. Of course, disabled and abused women have existed throughout history. They don’t usually make it into the history books. Thanks to writers like Aiki Flinthart, these silent women of history can finally be heard.

Calzean reviewed Lucky Ticket, a short story collection by Stella Prize nominee Joey Bui, with stories set in many countries around the world but with a common theme of hope. That’s something we could certainly do with great lashings of at the moment.

Jess Rae at Underground Writers reviewed wrote about Jasmine Seymour’s picture book, Baby Business, about “a very intimate and sacred Indigenous ceremony known as the ‘Baby Smoking Ceremony’, in which various native plants are burned to produce a cleansing smoke to clear out the bad spirits.”

Whispering Gums introduced us to The near and the far: More stories from the Asia-Pacific region, Vol. 2, a collection of stories which “stems from a project called WrICE (Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange), an intercultural and intergenerational program which “brings together Australian and Asia-Pacific writers for face-to-face collaborative residencies in Asia and Australia”.”

Reading for diversity

I hope you’ll consider adding one or more of these books to your reading list. If there’s nothing here which piques your interest, check out some of our recent Diversity round ups or have a look through the reading lists on our Reading for diversity page.

Keep the reviews coming! Remember to check the “Diversity” box when you link your review if the author is from a diverse background or your review touches on Indigenous issues, migrant heritage, LGBTQI/non-binary or disability experiences.

About me

Rebecca BowyerI’m Rebecca Bowyer, a storyteller, novelist and Diversity Editor here at the Australian Women Writers Challenge. I live in Melbourne, Australia with my husband and two young sons. When not at my day job or wrangling kids, I can be found writing my next novel, or writing about books, reading and writing over at Story Addict.

Maternal Instinct, my first dystopian fiction novel, was published in October 2019.