BUT . . .
I usually don't keep track of the numbers. Now I will. I've joined the Australian Women Writers' Challenge 2012 and my challenge is to read books from a range of genres and where possible to read outside my comfort zone.
As the year kicks on, I'll blog about the various Australian-authored books I've read.
Boomerang Bride - Fiona Lowe - kindle.
Disclaimer - Fiona is a friend of mine and this is her first foray into what's called "Single Title" as opposed to "category" romance. Boomerang Bride is loads of fun. Girl from the Aussie outback is stranded in the middle of snow-bound Wisconsin, USA. This contemporary romance is a gorgeous holiday read.
|Get this book!|
Oh wow, this book was so good I fell for it, big time. Shift is a YA thriller that absolutely messed with my head in the best possible way. I normally don't read thrillers because I can find them so upsetting and in some cases gory. This book, though, really spoke to me because the tension and conflict were psychological, not physical.
Do you remember that moment in The Sixth Sense when that big twist happened? (If you worked it out before hand, well done you, now stop being a Smart-Alec). A fabulous twist happens mid-way through Shift that absolutely catapults it from Captivating Novel into Majorly Amazing Novel That Has Me In Its Grasp! I will not give away what it is, but when it happens, you will be massively impressed and nodding your head like me and thinking, 'It all makes perfect sense!'
It's an absolute testament to Em Bailey, this story is woven so cleverly, I doubt anyone sees this coming.
Sorry, I got so caught up in the cleverness I forgot to say what the book is about!!!! Troubled Olive Corbett is fascinated by the arrival of new girl Miranda. Miranda is such a nothing of a person, but when she starts hanging out with the elite girls, Miranda destroys them from within like a parasite. At first the storytelling is from a distance - Olive and her best friend Ami, watch Miranda fool everyone. But then Miranda's attentions turn towards Olive and she's drawn into Miranda's insane world.
And that's all I can say apart from "Get this book, it is amazing!"
Bride by Mistake - Anne Gracie - paperback.
Another disclaimer - Anne Gracie is also a friend of mine, hahahaha! This is Regency Romance with a dashing twist as a British Lord goes to collect his bride from a convent. They'd married 8 years ago, he'd parked her 'somewhere safe' and figured he'd get an annulment. When the annulment proves impossible, they're stuck with each other. She's all spitfire and passion, and leads him a merry chase around Spain. I gulped this down in one day. One day!!!!
Hit - Tara Moss - borrowed paperback from library.
Now here's where I leaned way outside my comfort zone. I don't read thrillers very much, and I hadn't read any Tara Moss. I confess to being prejudiced against Ms Moss because a) I was massively jealous of her success and b) for a while there it seemed she turned up to the opening of an envelope. BUT, I've done a 180 and now absolutely LOVE HER because of this post on her blog that caused a huge storm . . . for being absolutely true. Year after year, reviewer after reviewer in the big papers of record - books by men stand a much higher chance of getting a review than ones written by women. Awards keep going to men as well - does that mean men write better books than women or are they merely better at writing the sort of books that win awards?
What year is this again????
Tara's blog post is what got me interested in the AWW challenge in the first place. Thank you Tara!
And my thoughts on the book? Damn surprising. I found myself grinning as I read, and barracking for Mak and (silently) giving the Cavanagh clan a pantomime "Boo-hiss". The details felt absolutely convincing without resorting to an info-dump of research (although there was a fair bit - but it suited the tone). I'll definitely be reading more of her books.
Mad About The Earl - Christina Brooke - paperback.
Ooops, how did another regency romance sneak in here? I don't care. I love them.
The Puzzle Ring - Kate Forsythe - borrowed paperback from library.
A much younger read than I normally choose, so again it's outside the reading comfort zone. Forsythe has created a rich, detailed world that is utterly believable. She's done her research, and it shows. This book has a really old fashioned 'classic' feel to it. The protagonist, Hannah, is 'nearly 13' and has a charming spark of adventure about her. It's a long book, for girls who absolutely LOVE to read.
You can tell I'm writing more and getting very busy. I'm still reading but the time crunch has bitten hard.
A Little Bush Maid - Mary Grant Bruce - borrowed paperback from library.
Billabong Book 1, first published 1910.
Oh the deep shame. I'm struggling.
Perhaps if I'd grown up with these books, the warm blanket of nostalgia would carry me through. Instead I find myself becoming frustrated by the narrator 'telling' me a story, as opposed to simply being able to see it unfold for myself.
It was a different era, when people had more time to settle down and wait for the story to begin.
I'm far too impatient for that.
The 15 Billabong books are Australian classics. This one is due back at the library on Wednesday.
I've convinced myself to give it another shot. Come on Ebs, relax and let it all wash over you.
Cassie's Grand Plan - Emmie Dark - bought paperback.
Oh yeah baby, I'm back in the zone. What zone is that?
The romance zone.
Look, I can't keep reading things that are outside my regular tastes without a side serving of some sweet, sweet romance.
This is Emmie Dark's debut for Harlequin Superromance and it's a cracker. (Declaration - Emmie is not only a good friend of mine, she's a crit partner as well and fellow MRWG member).
Cassie Hartman is magnificent at running a business, but her personal life is collecting cobwebs.
She's created a four-step plan for balanced home-work perfection. When Ronan McGuire walks into her world, she's tempted to skip parts one and two of the plan and head straight to three and four.
The joy in reading this is not whether Cassie will end up with hunky Ronan McGuire, but how. Emmie does a sensational job of creating believable characters with relatable backstories and present-day foibles. The end result is beautifully satisfying.
I'm preparing 2 workshops and a 25-minute talk for the RWA Roadshow in Launceston on May 19 and using scenes from Gone With The Wind as examples. Margaret Mitchell (not an Australian writer, alas) had me in her thrall and I had to read the whole thing again. When I say 'whole thing', only up until Bonnie Blue starts riding a pony. Then I had to stop, it becomes too traumatic even for a drama lover like me.
Thank you AWW2012 for bringing Paddy O'Reilly into my world. It popped up while I was browsing the booki.sh site. It looked funny and crass and blunt as a hammer. Just my cup of chino.
I grew up in the city, and also in some country towns. We moved around a heap and lived in some quality establishments and some real holes. If ever there was a book that drilled into the core of who I am, this is that book.
Australian writer? Check. Oh, but what does the PA stand for? Paddy. Which could be a bloke, y'know, in this dry brown land we call home . . . quick bit of investigating, Paddy is a woman! Yeah, great excuse to buy the book.
This is a magnificent read. I'm not finished yet, but it's so fabulous I have to tell everyone right now that you have to get it and read it and laugh your head off.
And I had to have something to show for AWW2012 in March, aside from a gaping great hole. Proper review to follow. Possibly late April at the rate I'm going!
Good Comedy Should Make You Cry
PA (Paddy) O'Reilly's fabulous novel plunders a deep emotional well. Biting observations sit cheek-by-jowl with warm, real people. In the finest fiction traditions, the town and people are completely made up but feel utterly authentic.
Loretta loves her children so much she can't wait to dump them at an orphanage. Yet when her ex husband turns up out of the blue, laden with guilt gifts and a new girl on his arm, Loretta frets her children will abandon her for the promise of a LEGO set.
The one-abbottoir town of Gunapan doesn't have much to offer tourists - but it will if a shady new development goes through. Loretta is leading the charge to save what's left of the town, including the primary school, which is facing closure. Loretta's zeal (Shanghaiing people into the Save our School Committee and numerous letters to the Minister for Education, Elderly Care and Gaming) ends up alienating people. She's concerned that her strident behaviour is making her children the target of bullies. When she finds out the truth, it's utterly mesmerising and heart-rippingly good. I bawled, I tell you, BAWLED.
Having grown up all over Victoria, from inner city Melbourne to a one-butcher-cum-post-office town and a school of only ten students, everything about this book felt utterly real to me. It had me rolling about with the truthiness of it all, and then bawling my eyes out in sympathy with Loretta.
Grab this book. And a box of tissues. And bow down to the National Treasure that is PA O'Reilly.