Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012- Challenge Complete

Well, it ‘s almost the end of 2012 and of the Australian Women Writers Reading & Reviewing Challenge.

Here at Nowra Library we displayed and promoted books written by Aussie women for most of 2012, with great success. Loans and circulation of these books increased noticeably throughout the year and it was great to see a wide range of borrowers walk out the door with newly discovered Australian reads.

Similarly, members of library staff who read and contributed reviews for the challenge also made new literary discoveries. Here is a list of the reviews published here at The Readers’ Haven throughout 2012:

Good Oil by Laura Buzo – Jessica
Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan- Kelly
Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth- Kelly
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton- Gail
The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet by Colleen McCullough – Marie
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton- Nicole
The Precipice by Virginia Duigan- Sarah
Tiger Men by Judy Nunn- Marie  


Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012 – Bittersweet But Delicious…or, Why I’m in love with Laura Buzo.

I have a secret to tell you. I have a crush. Not just any old crush, but a full blown I-want-to-read-everything-you’ve-ever-written-including-that-shopping-list-you-scribbled-down-last-week kind of crush. And it’s on Sydney based young adult author, Laura Buzo.

She’s amazing. Her stories tell tales of longing and grief in suburbia. Her writing is full of wit, grit and feeling. Her female leads are well-read, funny and strong. Her male characters are dangerously attractive. But above all, her books feel REAL.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of YA fiction, but a lot of the time, young adult books sound like they have been written by adults. You know, when they try to sound hip and funky (when no person under the age of 25 says things like ‘hip’ and ‘funky’)? Few have avoided this trap. Think Marchetta, Lawrinson and Crowley.
In Good Oil, 15 year old Woolworths employee Amelia falls hard for 21 year old Chris. What follows is a tale of lust and longing, of being too young to know what you really want, but wanting it anyway. So bad it hurts.

Buzo’s second novel, Holier Than Thou follows Holy and Nick, two twenty-something social workers in inner city Sydney, down the bumpy roads and dim alleyways of the heart.

If you want to try YA fiction, or are already a convert and looking for something to sink your teeth into, I highly recommend taking a bite out of Buzo’s work.


Costa Book Awards 2012 Shortlist Revealed

The 2012 Costa Books Awards shortlist has been announced.

The Costa Book Awards recognise the most enjoyable books in five categories – First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book – published in the last year by writers based in the UK and Ireland. 

Nominees include Hilary Mantel, author Mark Watson, author Wendy Holden, actress and broadcaster Janet Ellis and poet Daljit Nagra.

Two graphic novels are  among the nominated- a very exciting first! They are Days of the Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterhart (Novel category) and Dotter of her Father’s Eyes by Mary & Bryan Talbot (Biography category).

Novelist Andrew Miller won the 2011 award for Pure. Set in pre-revolutionary Paris in 1785, Pure is the story of Jean-Baptiste Baratte, an ambitious young engineer, who is assigned the task of emptying the noxious, overflowing Parisian cemetery Les Innocents, and of demolishing its church.

The winner of the Costa Book of the Year 2012 (who will receive £30,000) will announced at the Costa Book Awards ceremony in London on Tuesday 29th January 2013.

To read more about the buzz surrounding the graphic novels in this year’s shortlists, check out this Guardian article Costa book awards: the comic contenders.

The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards 2013

The Prime Minister has announced the opening of the 2013 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.

Nominations are open for six categories- adult fiction, non-fiction, Australian history, poetry, young adult fiction and children’s fiction.

The winner of each award will receive $80,000 tax-free while the shortlisted entries in each category will receive $5,000 tax-free.

The Prime Minister’s Media Release: ‘These awards play an important role in highlighting the outstanding literary talent Australia and the valuable contribution Australian literature and history makes to the nation’s cultural and intellectual life.’

 Three judging panels of 11 industry experts will judge the entries and will select shortlists and winners for each of the six categories.

To enter, participants must be living Australian citizens or permanent residents. Entries must have been first published in English between 1 January 2012 and 31 December 2012 and offered for general sales within Australia between these dates.

Entries close at 5.00pm on Wednesday 16 January 2013 and the shortlists will be announced in May 2013.

For more information visit View the entry guidelines here.

You can also follow the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards on Facebook and follow the Office of the Arts on Twitter.

Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012 – Review- ‘Sea Hearts’ by Margo Lanagan

Sea Hearts Cover Image Along with Kate Forsyth, Margo Lanagan takes the cake as my 2012 Australian Women Writers Challenge ‘discovery’ of the year.  It is just so exciting to find two new authors, both female and both Australian, who rock my world.

Sea Hearts is one of my favourite reads for 2012. It is based on the Celtic selkie legend, of seals who shed their coats and become beautiful women (and, on occasion, men). A series of characters with  intertwining lives and stories tell the tale of  the witch Misskaella, who uses magic and the sea to pour revenge upon the inhabitants of Rollrock Island.

Sea Hearts is salty and bewitching, and I absolutely loved it. Lanagan’s writing is so beautiful that I found myself re-reading particular sentences and paragraphs over and over again, wondering how she could evoke such vivid images and feelings with such simplicity. In a few words Lanagan can paint a character or a setting so clearly that every detail is sharp as a freshly pressed Polaroid. I swear that at times during the reading of this book, I could smell the sea.


Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012- Review- Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Bitter Greens is a beautiful mish-mash of history, fiction and fairytale. Based on the fairy tale Rapunzel, it weaves together the stories of three characters  related to the tale: Margharita, sold by her parents for a ‘handful of bitter greens’ and imprisoned in a faraway tower, the sorceress Selena Leonelli, whose tale takes the reader into sixteenth century Venice and the paintings of Titian, and Charlotte Rose de la Force, French courtier and relative of the Sun King Louis XIV, who first penned ‘Rapunzel’ in the late 1600’s.  

I think Goodreads sums the novel up nicely: “Three women, three lives, three stories, braided together to create a compelling story of desire, obsession, black magic, and the redemptive power of love.” Hear, hear.

I have been meaning to try something of Kate Forsyth’s for quite some time and am so glad I did! It’s truly a book to get lost in; I couldn’t put it down.

I was lucky enough to hear Kate Forsyth speak about both Bitter Greens and ‘Rapunzel’ at the recent Fairy Tales Re-Imagined symposium held at the University of Technology in Sydney.  It was fantastic to hear how Kate first became interested in Rapunzel and how she used history to shape Bitter Greens. If you’re interested too, you can read more about Charlotte-Rose de la Force and the beginnings of Bitter Greens at Kate’s blog.

Kelly : )

2012 Eclectic Reader Challange – COMPLETE!

Finally finished the challenge! One book a month for each month of the year, comprising 12 different genres. What a great reading challenge – I cant wait to see what Shelley Rae has planned for 2013!

To view my year’s reading – click HERE.

Also, reading one of my favourite childhood reads for the final month go me thinking… What favourite book do you hope to pass on to your kids? (A love of books and reading is a gift that lasts forever, after all.)

Let me know what you’ve been reading!

The Casual Librarian xx

Book Launch @ Nowra Library- ‘In His Time’ by Dawn Veness

In His Time

‘Changing her identity, a frightened young woman flees interstate. Will her aspirations of becoming a top photo/journalist materialise, or will they be trampled underfoot… along with herself?
The small country town gives no hint that her life is about to change forever. Two near tragedies… and where will Mat fit into the tapestry of her life? Is she meant to be there at all? Is anyone?
Will she recognize God reaching out to her with His gift of love?
Heartbreak and confusion turn into triumph as she learns to trust, realising all will be resolved, IN HIS TIME.’

In His Time will be launched on Saturday 24th November
at 11am at Nowra Library

        Copies of the book will be on sale for $18.00 (Cash or cheque only)

        For bookings contact Robin on 44293710 or

Australian Women Writers Challenge Review- The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

‘The latest novel by Kate Morton is an absorbing tale of a woman haunted, after witnessing a crime committed by her mother, when she was a teenager.  As time goes by Laurel  becomes distant from her family but now, many years later, she is trying to piece together the reason behind her mother’s actions.

A successful actress, Laurel returns home to care for her dying mother and in the process begins to delve into her mother’s past discovering who her mother was and is.  This is a story about family, their sense of identity, misunderstandings, secrets, love and forgiveness.  A thoroughly enjoyable and absorbing read.  A real page turner!’

– Gail

For more information about The Australian Women Writers Reading & Reviewing Challenge, click here