AWW 2019 Wrap Up

2019 was a great year for me and this challenge. I hit and exceeded my 40 book goal, even my reviewing one. I was super on form with my reviews and I got a lot of AWW books read while also getting to read a lot of other authors I enjoy this year. I think if I devoted my entire reading to AWW I would excel, but there’s too many other books I love reading so I am pretty sure my challenge numbers will always be around this number. Which is not to say it’s a small feat, I am impressed with myself for making it and I can’t wait to hit this same number next year. I started the year aiming for 30 so to hit 45 is incredible. I’ve read 180 books this year and AWW made up 25% of my reading.

My final official numbers are 45 book read, 35 reviewed. Looking at past attempts this is a vast improvement so while I know it is low looking at some other people’s numbers, it’s a fantastic personal achievement that I’m really proud of. In terms of the types of books I read it varied a lot. I read a mixture of picture books, young adult, adult fiction, and even a few non fiction and anthologies. There are so many other AWW books I had on my list to read that I’m eager to dive into in 2020 and get this challenge off to a cracking start once more. For now though, I will be content with my win and grateful I was able to read so many amazing and diverse books by some amazing Aussie women.

Did you participate this year? How did you do? If not, keep an eye on the website for the 2020 sign up form if you’d like to jump on board and celebrate the talents of Australia’s Women Writers!

AWW 2019 Books Read and Reviewed

And All the Stars by Andrea K Host – Review

The Book That Made Me ed. by Judith Ridge – Review

Blossom Possum by Gina Newton – Review

The Tales of Mr Walker by Jess Black – Review

The Accusation by Wendy James – Review

The Pirate Treasure by Zander Bingham – Review

The Haunted Lighthouse by Zander Bingham – Review

The Lost Temple by Zander Bingham – Review

Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories ed. by Michael Earp – Review

The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty

Upside Down by N. R Walker – Review

Introducing Teddy by Jess Walton – Review

Wild Heart by Belinda Williams – Review

Jacob’s Toys by Claudia Woods – Review

The One by Kaneana May – Review

Once by Kate Forsyth – Review

Heartbreaker by Belinda Williams – Review

Lightening Tracks by A. A. Kinsela – Review

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty – Review

The Lost Man by Jane Harper – Review

The Good Girl Stripped Bare by Tracey Spicer – Review

It’s Not Scribble to Me by Kate Ritchie – Review

December’s Wish by Karly Lane – Review

The Greatest Gift by Rachel Johns – Review

Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina

It’s A Long Way to the Shop by Heidi McKinnon – Review

Did You Take the B from my _ook? by Beck and Matt Stanton – Review

Millie Loves Ants by Jackie French

Sorry Day by Coral Vass – Review

An Aussie Year by Tania McCartney

The Easter Bunny’s Helpers by Ann Mangan – Review

We Love School by Lucie Billingsley

Amazing Babes by Eliza Sarlos – Review

Beginnings: An Australian Speculative Fiction Anthology edited by Austin Sheehan – Review

You Must Be Layla by Yassmin Abdel-Magied – Review

Emmie and the Tudor King by Natalie Murray – Review

Whitney and Britney Chicken Divas by Lucinda Gifford

Meerkat Splash by Aura Parker

Little Puggle’s Song by Vikki Conley – Review

Every Time He Dies by Tara East – Review

Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park – Review

Illuminae by Aimie Kaufman

A Lifetime of Impossible Days by Tabitha Bird – Review

AWW Update Oct-Dec

This is my final update of 2019, but I will be posting my complete wrap up post later on with all the books I read for the challenge. There is still another week left on the month and year but I am doing my round up early because I know the books I am planning on finishing won’t count to this challenge unless something wild happens. In the past three months I hit my new 40 book goal which was tentative and promptly forgotten about after my last update so to see I exceeded it is quite exciting. The October #LoveOzYABookBingo helped my numbers a bit and getting to catch up a bit on my review requests was another boost I was grateful for.

 

AWW19 BOOKS Oct – Dec

You Must Be Layla by Yassmin Abdel-Magied – Review

Emmie and the Tudor King by Natalie Murray – Review

Whitney and Britney Chicken Divas by Lucinda Gifford

Meerkat Splash by Aura Parker

Little Puggle’s Song by Vikki Conley – Review

Every Time He Dies by Tara East – Review

Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park – Review

Illuminae by Aimie Kaufman

A Lifetime of Impossible Days by Tabitha Bird – Review

AWW19 TOTAL

Read: 45/40

Reviewed: 35/30

The Accusation by Wendy James

Published: 20th May 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
HarperCollins Australia
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Genre: Crime
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

Eighteen-year-old Ellie Canning is found shivering and barely conscious on a country road, clad only in ill-fitting pyjamas. Her story of kidnap and escape quickly enthrals the nation: a middle-aged woman with a crazy old mother has held Ellie in a basement, chained her to a bed and given her drinks from an old baby’s sippy cup. But who was this woman and what did she want with Ellie? And what other secrets might she hide?

When the accusation is levelled at local teacher Suzannah Wells, no one seems more bewildered than Suzannah herself … to start with. The preposterous charge becomes manifestly more real as she loses her job and her friends. And the evidence is strong: a dementia-affected mother, a house with a basement, a sippy cup that belonged to her long-dead daughter. And Ellie Canning’s DNA everywhere. As stories about Susannah’s past emerge, even those closest to her begin to doubt she’s innocent.

And Ellie? The media can’t get enough of her. She’s a girl-power icon, a social-media star. But is she telling the truth?

I love James’ writing because she creates these intriguing stories where you think you know where it is going but you’re also not 100% sure. In this case, there is a small part of your brain that wonders how good people are at covering their tracks and putting on a public face, or whether they are truly innocent. This is a great story because there’s arguments for both side and knowing which side is right changes how you look at the evidence presented.

All sorts of scenarios play through your mind: Ellie’s making it up, Suzannah is making it up, they’re both right and a third party is in play, Ellie is framing Suzannah. It’s a fascinating, mind boggling read where you want to know the right answer and find the truth.

James is skilled in making sure any exposition and history of people and places is slowly revealed through dialogue and conversations so readers aren’t inundated with a large amount of exposition. You learn about the characters and their intentions this way as well making the narrative flow naturally and with secrets and intentions remaining well hidden.

Mystery aside, I felt that the relationship between Chip and Suzannah was rushed. They both dive into their relationship quickly and is gets serious almost right away. It felt strange seeing them get close so fast but it isn’t completely unbelievable either.

Most of the story is told through Suzannah, but there are chapters where Honor has a voice as well. Scattered throughout are pieces of the Documentary that was released after the fact that includes transcripts and interviews which offers additional details and perspectives and demonstrates how wide spread this story goes on to become and how many lives become affected as a result.

With complicated, flawed characters there is a lot to unpack and make sense of. Another reason why this is such a compelling story. There is such a strong case for both sides to be right and you don’t quite know who is telling the truth which is where James’ storytelling brilliance stands out.

You can purchase The Accusation via the following

QBD | BooktopiaDymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park

Published: 4th December 1984 (print)/15th September 2012 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Puffin Books/Bolinda Audio
Pages: 208/6 hrs and 14 mins
Narrator: Kate Hood
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Classic
★   ★   ★  ★ – 4 Stars

1478198Distraught over her parents’ separation, Abigail follows a strange child called Beatie Bow and time slips back a hundred years where she becomes involved with an Australian shopkeeper’s family.

I was unsure what to expect from this, I’d heard great things about this Aussie classic and since it was reasonably short I was intrigued. I enjoyed the story from the start, I liked how Abigail is defiant and independent, and I loved the relationship she had with her mother.

I was quite drawn into the story by the end, it feels like a longer story than it is and time stretches on but does not drag. Park has done a great job mixing the time periods and blending the historical with the contemporary. Despite being published in 1980, there is a wonderful 70s vibe through this story because it is the time of the women’s liberation movement and this comes across in the dialogue between Abigail and her mother. Limiting minor spoilers I loved how fiercely Abigail is trying to reason with her mother over her relationship with her father. It gave a wonderfully modern feel to the story and I think Park does a great job satisfying both parties with how she handles the situation.

I was surprised by the ending but Park makes this work in how she loops it back to the earlier story. It subjects your expectations and keeps a little of the magic alive, certainly giving a satisfactory feel as a reader as we too have become attached to these figures of history as we spend time with them as well.

Kate Hood does a great job as narrator. Her use of accents makes each character stand out, though Park’s writing does that well enough as it is, with each time period represented through dialogue, language and descriptions.

The historical aspect brings to light a side of Sydney I hadn’t thought about before. The reign of Queen Victoria and the fact Australia is still reasonably new are charming factors, and Park shows us a little of how life was during that time. I understood how Park makes it sound rather peaceful and fulfilling, while also showing the hardships. The balance between the current times and the olden days is surely the perfect way to live and seeing Abigail come to that realisation was great.

For a time before young adult books were really a thing, this is a good coming of age story that fills in the gaps between kids and teens, for those early years before becoming a fully-fledged teenager and are still trying to navigate growing up and moving on from childhood.

You can purchase Playing Beatie Bow via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Emmie and the Tudor King (#1) by Natalie Murray

Published: 11th June 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Literary Crush Publishing
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult Historical
★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 Stars

One moment, Emmie is writing her high school history paper; the next, she’s sitting with a gorgeous 16th century king who vacillates from kissing her to ordering her execution.

Able to travel back to her own time, but intensely drawn to King Nick and the mysterious death of his sister, Emmie finds herself solving the murder of a young princess and unravelling court secrets while trying to keep her head on her shoulders, literally.

With everything to lose, Emmie finds herself facing her biggest battle of all: How to cheat the path of history and keep her irresistible king, or lose him—and her heart—forever.

Note: I received a copy of this book for review

The premise of an alternative Tudor history drew me straight into this book. What if Queen Elizabeth 1 had children, and what if one of those became King? This is the story Murray has so skilfully created.

Filled with suspense and danger, the unpredictability of a King’s temper and a lawless world, there is a lot to grab your interest. The risks Emmie takes in befriending the King and his court is paramount, but seeing these names and faces as real people and not just words in a history book have emotional effects.

Emmie isn’t presented as a history fanatic who knew every person and event that she encounters, a choice which I appreciated. The common knowledge exists of these figures but there is also the 21st Century advantage of the internet which plays a role in learning more of these characters.

The secrets and surprises revealed in this are amazing and your brain works overtime trying to solve not only the main mystery, but all the other little mysteries as well. I loved that it’s a story nestled in the real Tudor history but is still a story so new and unique on its own. One book in and I am already curious to find out the ongoing effects of this insertion into history, about the future lines and events affected as a result.

It was interesting because while history and the future shouldn’t be changed because what has happened has happened, with this being an alternate history already I almost rooted for history and the future to change because it felt like it didn’t matter as much.

The dark side of historical amusements means there’s such things as bear baiting, cock fights, and public executions that happen with this story, but there is a romantic approach to the era as well which Murray brings out. Something which is no small feat given it’s a bit hard to fathom with the lack of hygiene and proper medicine, foul streets and other Tudor issues. But this is also a world being viewed through the eyes of the court and not the common citizen.

Murray captures the Tudor 16th century clothing and lifestyle without it becoming heavy with content. I understood the mood and the dangers without Murray needing to flood it with references, and the language balances between modern and Tudor. While you can argue Emmie words and language may see her as more out of place and strange, Murray works with this well and Emmie does well to manage, 16th century English not completely foreign to our own language. Though I did feel like Murray lessens the old English a bit as the story goes on.

I am excited to dive into book two because Murray leaves us with an exciting conclusion and after all the excitement that has come before I am keen to return to both these worlds and see where Murray’s imagination will take us next.

You can purchase Emmie and the Tudor King via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

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