Australian Women Writers Reading Challenge, 2015 – all in the past.

aww-badge-2015

It’s wrap up time for my Australian Women Writers Reading Challenge reading experience for 2015, for me that means time to announce yet again what a slow reader I am. MY NAME IS JULIE AND I AM A SLOW READER. My stated plan was to read 4 books by Australian women and review at least 3.

The books that I did read where RISK by Fleur Ferris, a fast-paced, relevant YA novel about a girl who finds danger on the internet. I also had the pleasure of interviewing Fleur at her launch of RISK in July. I read THE STRAYS by Emily Bitto,  a beautiful Stella Prize winning Literary novel which I read as part of my planning to share a panel with Emily at the Queenscliff Lit festival in May. And I read Elizabeth Lhuede’s Debut Novel, SNOWY RIVER MAN, a Romance novel written under the pen name, Lizzy Chandler, a  book with lovely  depictions of the Australian landscape written around a mystery type story. I said I would read MEDEA’S CURSE by Anne Buist, but even though it is a worthy work, I found that me being a writer that delves in psychological drama and Anne being a psychiatrist I unfairly expected more psych drama and that isn’t the type of book it is, so put it down.

Other readings this year  were Truman Capote’s Summer Crossing (not AU), Janette Winterson’s Written on the Body (not AU), some of the Australian novel by Maxine Beneba Clarke, Foreign Soil, which has won many awards, The Infinity Pool (not AU) which is a great summer holiday read, engaging but not too demanding, so you can relax on the beach and doze between reads, The Marquise of O by Heinrich von Kleist (notAU) written in 1808, a drama involving a mysterious rape, which I promised to review for someone but haven’t, YET, and The spring edition of Tincture Journal which features many Australian writers.

This year I also read books on writing. I’m currently reading A KITE IN THE WIND which has an excellent essay first up on the separation of author, narrator and character (NOT AU)

That’s it! bring on 2016! 2016 book resolution: I WILL READ BETTER!

 

 

Post from march 2015:

I’m a little bit slow to get my blog post of intended reads down this year, it’s already coming up to Easter, so here we go! I’m planning the Stella level ( read 4 – review at least 3 ). I’m being conservative, but I know I’ll read more, I’m cheating – if I set my sights on a low level I know I won’t fail!

Here are my four intended reads of women writers for this year:

* RISK by Fleur Ferris (YA) (Fleur is an author buddy of mine, so I’m excited about this one)

* MEDEA’S CURSE (PSYCH THRILLER) by Anne Buist (I was appearing with Anne at Queenscliffe Lit fest so picked this one up quick smart, but now instead of Anne, I’m appearing with the next lady on my list –)

* THE STRAYS by Emily Bitto (LIT FIC) (The Strays has been shortlisted for this years Stella Prize)

* SNOWY RIVER MAN (ROMANCE) by Lizzy Chandler ( also known as Elizabeth Lhuede, founder of the Australian Women Writers Challenge)

I’ll also be heading back to some favourite women writers this year, with a little bit of Doris lessing, no, not Australian, but a favourite, and a bit of Elizabeth Jolley. I stopped reading Jolley when she passed away a few years ago because I didn’t ever want to find myself in the position of not ever having another Jolley to read, but there are so many that I’ll have forgotten them by the time I come back to them again, and anyway, there’s a finite number of books you can read in your lifetime so might as well make them good ones!

Happy Reading!

Australian Women Writers Challenge 2015!

aww-badge-2015

I’m a little bit slow to get my blog post of intended reads down this year, it’s already coming up to Easter, so here we go! I’m planning the Stella level ( read 4 – review at least 3 ). I’m being conservative, but I know I’ll read more, I’m cheating – if I set my sights on a low level I know I won’t fail!

Here are my four intended reads of women writers for this year:

* RISK by Fleur Ferris (YA) (Fleur is an author buddy of mine, so I’m excited about this one)

* MEDEA’S CURSE (PSYCH THRILLER) by Anne Buist (I was appearing with Anne at Queenscliffe Lit fest so picked this one up quick smart, but now instead of Anne, I’m appearing with the next lady on my list –)

* THE STRAYS by Emily Bitto (LIT FIC) (The Strays has been shortlisted for this years Stella Prize)

* SNOWY RIVER MAN (ROMANCE) by Lizzy Chandler ( also known as Elizabeth Lhuede, founder of the Australian Women Writers Challenge)

I’ll also be heading back to some favourite women writers this year, with a little bit of Doris lessing, no, not Australian, but a favourite, and a bit of Elizabeth Jolley. I stopped reading Jolley when she passed away a few years ago because I didn’t ever want to find myself in the position of not ever having another Jolley to read, but there are so many that I’ll have forgotten them by the time I come back to them again, and anyway, there’s a finite number of books you can read in your lifetime so might as well make them good ones!

Happy Reading!

The sky was turning petrol blue and the air held notes of spring. Anna George, What Came Before.

MY NEXT AUS WOMEN WRITERS  challenge read this year is Anna George’s contemporary fiction/psychological drama, What Came Before. It’s her first book, arriving on the scene in June this year (2014) and it’s a punchy page turner. Ms George has a delightful way with words and dispatches the story with style and class. I’ve underlined quite a few one liners in the book that lift the text and make it sing.

The sky was turning petrol blue and the air held notes of spring.

Petrol blue? How good is that?

The story revolves around David Forrester and Elle Nolan. When Dave and Elle meet, an instant and dynamic romance begins. They both revel in what Elle describes as the psychological term, Limerence- the euphoria of romantic attraction – and dream of long term plans.

But Elle is a romantic comedy script writer, and she can’t help but dissect their new found love like it’s a chess game. She questions her every feeling and action, mocking herself, to the detriment of their relationship. Dave, haunted by unhealthy baggage, struggles with the normal mechanisms of human interaction resulting in uncomfortable and unhappy exchanges.

As their tumultuous affair unfolds their desire to be in a relationship that heralds an opportunity for them both to become parents has them naively explain away Dave’s increasingly unpredictable and violent behaviour.

I don’t think it gives too much of the story away to say Ms George draws the reader in from the get go with Dave’s surprising confession of  Elle’s murder.  As the title suggests, we are taken on the ride of what came before the murder with an in-depth and sensitive probing of the emotional side of Dave and Elle’s road to disaster. We spend time understanding the slightly delusional Dave as he unfolds his version of the story and we hover delicately in the mind of the murdered Elle who watches over her own murder scene in lovely dream like sequences.

Elle hovers forlornly above her wall-hung dryer. Outside, the night is cooler and deserted. Nothing is moving, not even a possum. Despite the dozen small houses nudging against hers, no one besides Mira and Doris knows her intimate routine. No one else knows to rap and shout. No one else will be looking. But perhaps that’s not so bad. She’s not ready, she realises, to be found — to be publicly dead.

Ms George has worked in the legal profession, the film industry, and is a reviewer for The Age Newspaper. Her knowledge of what makes a good story comes together to kick this book into a superbly delivered page turner.  Readers will feel they are in good hands.

A shorter version of this review appears in The Bendigo Weekly Newspaper

Sweet and Sorrowful: Girls In Our Town, Dianne Dempsey: Book Review

 girls-in-our-town

Adding to my Australian Women Writers Challenge for 2014, I’m very pleased to review a gorgeous book by fellow Bendigonean, Dianne Dempsey.

Girls in our town is the first novel from author Dianne Dempsey. Dempsey launched her debut novel this month at the Bendigo Writers Festival (2014) a very apt venue with the story based in Bendigo.

Dempsey knows her way around the literary world having worked as a freelance journalist, scriptwriter and book reviewer for a number of Australian newspapers and journals so it’s no surprise that Girls in Our Town is a carefully crafted work.

The reader follows the young life of twenty year old Sheba who struggles with her place in life as she drags about with her the shadow of a tragic car accident that tugs on her guilt and forms her view of the world:

I remember one day waking up from the fug to see Sally’s mother standing at the end of my bed in the hospital room. I thought she’d be nice to me, but I quickly realised she was very angry. She just wanted to tell me how much she blamed me for the accident…One of the nurses heard screaming and came rushing into the room to find Sally’s mum pummelling my stitched up face with her fists.

The delicate and deliberate prose is deceptively simple, and has the knack of being at once heart-breaking and funny. Sheba’s beautifully portrayed troubled younger sister Brigid, who is bullied unmercifully, is the source of many hilarious and sweet moments. Sheba’s admirable attitude to their equally troubled alcoholic mother Clover, adds lightness to the darker events in the story that might otherwise make for a deeply sorrowful read.

I should add that she spoke with a lisp which was why she called me Theba instead of Sheba…Clover never really did get round to organising the orthodontith.

For a book that touches on death, bullying, rape, alcoholism, child neglect and much more, it’s a testament to Dempsey’s talent that it is also adorable and sweet, you can’t help but fall in love with the family of Girls in our Town.

This review also appears in The Bendigo Weekly

Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014

awwbadge_2014

The Australian Women Writer’s Challenge has begun its third year. Going in to this year I’m pledging the Stella Level – to read four books by Australian Women. See here for details on the Aus Women Writers website. The number of books is a token measure to keep me on track, my list of books by Australian Women that I plan to read is fluid, and will grow as the year tootles by.

I’m beginning the year with the following list, and I’ll be interested to see how it changes and grows over the year.

Just_A_Girl by Kirsten Krauth. ✔ Interview with Kirsten   mini review

Midnight Blue and Endlessly Tall by Jane Jervis-Read. ✔ Review.

brb: be right back, by Maree Dawes ✔ mini review

Hostile Takeover, by Claire Corbett. From the The Amanda Lohrey selects series

Writing in Virginia’s Shadow, by Mary Pomfret  Review Interview

Fractured by Dawn Barker.

The Young Widows Book of Home Improvement by Virginia Lloyd.

Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers.

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