Well hello, we have now arrived to the first day of 2021.  I guess we will all be wondering what is in store for us this year.  I trust that all your families welcomed in the New Year with a sense of optimism and hope.

During December there were 45 reviews that covered 36 books and 33 authors.  No doubt there will be an increase over January with many terrific novels received as presents, selected from vouchers or borrowed from libraries.  Hope you have some great books in your TBR pile.

The first title in this round up is from Ingrid Alexandra who was a graduate writer from the Australian Writer’s Centre and has her first novel The New Girl.  Amanda Barrett gave this one a four star rating and it sounds like just the right novel for a ‘by the beach’ read and she states “A novel that you can consume in one swift gulp, The New Girl by Ingrid Alexandra offers up plenty of tension, suspense, drama, dubious events, untrustworthy characters and a solid interrogation of the reliability of the human mind when placed under duress. Boost your thriller pile with this debut from Ingrid Alexandra.

Sharon Hill really enjoyed Anthea Hodgson’s The Drifter and recommends this one to you and wrote “The Drifter by Australian author Anthea Hodgson is a compelling and moving story that I enjoyed a lot. With likeable characters, especially aunt Ida, who was forever making cups of tea and let’s not forget the cake to go with that tea. And of course I mustn’t forget the loveable dog Mac who of course I just adored. If you enjoy reading rural romance, then this one is a must read for you.”

Catherine Jinks has made her name as a writer that appeals to young adults and older readers, mixing with fantasy and historical fiction.  Jennifer Cameron Smith’s review of Shelter highlights the way Jinks can draw you in to a story “What a bleak, heartbreaking, and incredibly beautifully written story this is. The characters are well-developed, the issues are real, and the tension is high. Nothing is straightforward, and while I worked out a few of the twists, I was not at all prepared for the ending. If you read this novel, be prepared to ride an emotional roller-coaster.”

One to keep an eye out for in the New Year will be Kim Kelly’s new release The Truth and Addy Loest.  Clairesreadandreviews provides a pre-release review and it is obvious this new novel was thoroughly enjoyed by Claire. “I loved this novel and I will read it again and possibly again after that. The writing and language is exquisite and perfect and such a pleasure to read.”  I will definitely be adding it to my list by Claire’s recommendation.

Return to Tamarlin by K.M Steele was reviewed by Carolyn Scott who thought it was quite a sad story covering the challenges of farming in difficult country “This was quite a sad story with some strong themes. Not least the difficult lives of farmers trying to make a living out of marginal land, desperately trying to provide for their families while the land degrades further.”

Cloggie Downunders review of Nicole Trope’s The life she left behind certainly highlights the consistent success Nicole has had, this being her eleventh novel with others to follow.  Marianne felt that Trope’s “depiction of life with a psychopath is believable and downright scary: the physical, emotional and psychological abuse that leads to difficult choices and long-held secrets certainly attract the reader’s empathy, although some are bound to find the violence confronting. And those creepy troll dolls will send a shiver down many a spine. An engrossing read.”

Finishing the December round up we have debut novel from Olivia Wearne which is called The Grand Tour.  The Burgeoning Bookshelf found this was a little different to what she expected but still felt it was a worthwhile read “There are many funny moments as each character navigates the different relationships in their life.  Olivia Wearne’s debut novel is witty and observant. She expertly depicts human foibles and slots them into chuckle inducing scenarios.

And now let’s recap the year of General Fiction reviews.  We had 744 reviews which covered 286 books and 236 of our fabulous Australian Women Writers.  In the round up list I am only including titles that were reviewed just as general fiction with no other specific categories – all of these were reviewed five times or more.

When Grace went away by Meredith Appleyard

Who we were by B.M. Carroll

The life she wants (and others in series) by Maggie Christensen

The safe place by Anna Downes

The mothers by Genevieve Gannon

Truths I never told you by Kelly Rimmer

The great escape from Woodlands Nursing Home by Joanna Nell

A life worth living by Louise Guy

The survivors by Jane Harper

The secret life of Shirley Sullivan by Lisa Ireland

The farm at Peppertree Crossing by Leonie Kelsall

Where the truth lies by Karina Kilmore

Just an ordinary family by Fiona Lowe

The good teacher by Petronella McGovern

The godmothers by Monica McInerney

and lastly

The Cake Maker’s Wish by Josephine Moon

Thank you to everyone who submitted reviews during 2020 and I look forward to reading your reviews and recommendations during 2021.  Happy New Year to everyone and congratulations to all the authors who have released novels over the past year in challenging circumstances.  Thanks to all the bookshops and libraries and publishers that have conducted online launches during the year, it’s so important for our authors and readers to remain connected.

About me : I have always adored contemporary and historical fiction written by Australian Women Writers and it is a pleasure to be involved in the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge.  Look forward to participating in the tenth year of the challenge.  It’s an absolute pleasure to be part of the admin team.