Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Australian Women Writers Challenge Completed

 It's like a long distance endurance event. And, well, I honestly didn't think I'd make it. In the beginning I was so motivated for the Australian Women's Writers Challenge. Pumped up. Nimble. Been in training for two years on smaller challenges. Ready for to go for it!

It started well with Kate Grenville's "Idea of Perfection". Really, you can't go wrong with such an expert writer. You are in safe hands.

Then I made a fatal error. I went too hard too fast. And conked out.

My mistake was to gorge myself on the Stella Longlist (see last post) at the beginning of the year. And it was all too rich, too much the same, too fatty, too dense and I wanted to puke.

Any Australian writer wanting to write about a mother daughter relationship should be first made to read "Hot Milk" by Deborah Levy and "The Portable Veblen" by Elizabeth McKenzie.

These are the recent contemporary books I read.
Anchor Point Alison Robinson
The World Without Us Michelle Juchau
Night Street by Kristal Thornell This was at least different to the other contemporary books I was reading. The imagining of the life of painter Clarice Clift. The language replected the visuals very well. I like the paintings.
And for something completely different and utterly enjoyable I read and reviewed  Dead Men Don't Order Flake by Sue Williams. Worth reading for the ferrets and the laughs. Yes. That's right. Ferrets.

My reading list has been huge and so satisfying this year thanks to my employment in a library with a terrific collection. I soon forgot all about Australian Women Writers while I submerged myself in international literature very happily thanks very much. However my job is in Children's Library services so I did have to read some Young Adult and Junior Fiction and here's where I went back to some Australian Women authors.

Green Valentine By Lili Wilkinson is a whimsical Young Adult tale with environmental tips, fast moving comic plot with enough gravitas to give it weight and enough romance to keep it ticking along. Nothing surprising here but it certainly delivers.

The Summer of Angus Jack by Jen Storer.
Jen is one of my favourite children's author. I highly recommend the Truly Tan and Danny Best Series and her picture book "Clarie's Pig Day Out" never fails to have the kids in fits of giggles. You might have a fart attack!
Angus Jack is for older readers - around 12 years. The book is bursting with mystery and magic.
If you are interested in writing for children then Jen is your go to girl for tips. Check out her website girl and duck. for all sorts of advice.

Iris and the Tiger by Leanne Hall
It has to be said - this book has THE BEST COVER!!! Thanks to the wonderful and talented artist Sandra Eterovic.
Again - for readers 10 plus. This book is set in Spain in an strange old house and it delves head long into the world of surreal art and I liked that a lot. I questioned the plot many times but the playful fun and games of the infusion of surreal elements kept me hooked.

Cicada Summer by Kate Constable Eloise is a grieving girl who has lost her mother and her voice and is dumped with a cranky grandmother she doesn't know. She explores the old abandoned house that once belonged to her grandmother and which her father has great plans to develop. But she finds when she is there that time slips. Who is the little girl she meets there? Could it be her own mother as a child? And what will make her find her voice again?

Okay so here I am finding another trend in these two books of junior fiction. Duplicitous greedy fathers. Hmmm.

Friday Barnes #2 Under Suspicion by R.A.Spratt
These books are so clever and so well written and so brilliant. Get your 10 plus year old kids to read them.

So 10 books of the 80 books I have read this year have been by Australian Women Writers. I've shuffled to the end of the challenge - kind of skipped and cartwheeled along with the junior fiction and crossed the finish line.

The challenge is on again. And I will be there. This is an important venture to rectify the gender imbalance in mainstream reviewing with 70% books reviewed being by male authors. With my job and busy life I haven't done the challenge justice in 2016 and hope to be better, read better and review better in 2017.


  1. It's a FEAST of Australian women writers. Very satisfying. I went through a few years where all I read were women writers. I look forward to the day your own name is on such a list of books. Great post!

  2. Wow, what a menu you've worked through - the full degustation, I'd say! I too am looking forward to seeing your name on a tasty tally of books. I am stuck trying to choose what to read from your delicious list - so many scrumptious offerings. I'd like to try Iris and the Tiger, based on the cover alone - I am guessing it contains no ferrets, but perhaps a tiger, and I'm aged 10 plus, so it might be suitable.