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.


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 : )

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

Australian Women Writers Challenge Review- The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet

The Independence of Miss Mary Bennett takes up the story of the Bennet sisters some 20 years on from the events of Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride & Prejudice. It centres on Mary, the sister destined to be a spinster and tend to their obnoxious mother.

However after Mrs. Bennet’s demise Mary craves independence and through the influences  of editorial letters written by a mystery author, Argus, she embarks on an investigative adventure to discover the reasons for the social conditions of the age. While Mary is on this path certain developments lead her into danger when she meets Father Dominius and the Children of Jesus,  with surprising revelations…

The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet is very easy reading with the customary theme of leaving and the continuation of the lives of the Bennet family with romance being found no matter how late in life. It’s  funny, tragic and engaging at times with the ever present theme that every woman yearns to leave her mark upon the world.


For more information on the Australian Women Writers Reading and Reviewing Challenge click here

Australian Women Writers Challenge Review- ‘The Forgotten Garden’ by Kate Morton

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

What a great book. I would never have picked it up if it wasn’t for the Australian Women Writers Challenge (you know the old judging a book by its cover thing!) I loved the fact it was modern yet old and the chapters moved through time. I really couldn’t put it down. I had sort of worked out the ending but needed to keep reading to find how it all got put together. I would recommend this to anyone who likes mysteries or historical novels. I have heard that Morton’s first novel ‘The Shifting Fog’ is also good and I’m looking forward to reading that too. 

          –  Nicole




Australian Women Writers 2012 Challenge Review- ‘The Precipice’ by Virginia Duigan

I loved this book.  It wasn’t one of your fast paced thrillers, but I thought it was a well crafted and beautifully written story.  Perhaps I loved it so much because I related to the old, childless, cantankerous dog owner, Thea, who takes the central role! There are wonderful descriptions of the Blue Mountains and an intriguing story, that leads you to try and work out what happened in Thea’s past that provokes her responses.  Beautiful conversations and character descriptions, it was a book that I couldn’t put down.  Even after finishing the book I want to know more – what happened to Wombat and the baby, will anyone ever work it out …?

                                                                                     – Sarah 

Australian Women Writers 2012 Challenge Review- ‘Tiger Men’ by Judy Nunn

In true Nunn form this is a family saga set in the golden years of Tasmanian settlement and expansion. It follows the lives of three men, Silas Sandford, philanthropist and business man, Jefferson Powell, political idealist and ferryman and  Mick O’Callaghan, Irish rogue from convict days, through the Federation period and The Great War. The novel showcases the contrast between the wealthy elite, with their grand sandstone mansions, to the exploited poor who live in the Wapping slum area of Hobart.  Each main character’s ability to take advantage of the changing world of Hobart town caused their lives and families to prosper as they moved into the 20th century.

Tiger Men also explores the way the women in each of the main character’s lives showed courage, strength and endurance- thus the analogy to the Tasmanian tiger.

This is a great read if you enjoy a mix of Aussie history with your fiction as I do. You always learn something new.  

                                                                                                                                                                           Cheers, Marie

The Australian Women Writers 2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge

The Readers’ Haven is proud to announce that the following library members/staff will be participating in the Australian Women Writers 2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge:


We’ll be reading books by Australian female writers throughout the year and publishing our reviews here.

So watch this space….

For more information, go to The Australian Women Writers Reading and Reviewing Challenge 2012.   Image