AWW 2020 Wrap Up

This has been a strange year for my AWW Challenge – I read a lot of books but haven’t gotten around to reviewing that many yet. And I started strong but then had a small slump and then somehow have come back strong at the end. And while my number looks huge compared to what I usually achieve, I have come in big with picture books with them taking up almost half of my total. I don’t have any guilt about this however which is a surprise to no one more than myself because I know what kind of year I have had and know it is a pure miracle I have read anything at all so to be able to have such a phenomenal number is amazing. Plus I read a lot of CBCA and Christmas picture books which bumped up my numbers.

My final total for the year is 58 read and 20 reviewed which is an almost win from my 40 read, 30 reviewed goal from the start of the year. I read over 200 books this year and the AWW made up 30% of those. This is a 5% increase from last year so maybe in 2021 I can make it 35% or higher. I don’t need to worry that I haven’t got reviews for them all yet, I have all next year to get some reviews included but to have read this many, mainly accidentally, is astounding. I am curious about what next year will bring. The 2021 AWW Challenge sign up is already up but I don’t think I’m ready to set a number yet. I need to get through this year first, see it to the end and then I can focus on 2021.

Did you participate in the AWW this year? If so how did you go? Or if not, with a new year nearly upon us it’s a great chance to jump on board for the 2021 challenge and discover the wonderful women writers Australia has to offer.

 

AWW 2020 Books Read and Reviewed

Fairytales for Feisty Girls by Susannah McFarlane

Growing Up Queer in Australia ed Benjamin Lee – Review

Summer Time by Hilary Bell

Goodwood by Holly Throsby – Review

A Day at the Show by Gwyn Perkins – Review

Just the Way We Are by Jessica Shirvington – Review

Shout out to the Girls Review

Meerkat Choir by Nicki Greenberg – Review

Celeste the Giraffe Loved to Laugh by Celeste Barber – Review

Charlotte Pass by Lee Christine

Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend

The Mistake by Wendy James

Meet Me at the Intersection ed Rebecca Lim

Welcome to Orphancorp by Marlee Jane Ward

Clancy the Quokka by Lilli Wilkinson – Review

Star Crossed by Minnie Darke – Review

A Trip to the Beach by Gwyn Perkins

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood

Faking It (#2) by Gabrielle Tozer – Review

The Ex by Nicola Moriarty

Those Other Women Nicola Moriarty – Review

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil

What I Like About Me by Jenna Guillaume – Review

The Anzac Bilby by Claire Saxby

The Easter Bunnyroo by Susannah Chambers

Archibald the Naughtiest Elf in the World Causes Trouble for the Easter Bunny by Skye Davidson

Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah – Review

Before You Forget by Julia Lawrinson – Review

Queer Stories ed. Maeve Marsden

Ella and the Ocean by Lian Tanner

My Friend Fred by Frances Watts

Blinky Bill: The Quaint Little Australian by Dorothy Wall – Review

Blinky Bill Grows Up by Dorothy Wall – Review

Blinky Bill and Nutsy by Dorothy Wall – Review

All I Want for Christmas is Rain by Cori Brooke

Please Don’t Hug Me by Kay Kerr

This Is a Ball by Beck Stanton

Who’s Your Real Mum? by Bernadette Green

My Folks Grew Up in the ’80s by Beck Feiner

The Red Book by Beck Stanton

There’s no such thing! By Heidi McKinnon

All Through The Year by Jane Godwin

Reindeer’s Christmas Surprise by Ursula Dubosarsky

Little Dog and the Christmas Wish by Corinne Fenton

A Very Quacky Christmas by Frances Watts – Review

What Do You Wish For? by Jane Godwin

Tea and Sugar Christmas by Jane Jolly

An Aussie Day Before Christmas by Kilmeny Niland – Review

Santa and the Sugar Glider by Alexa Moses

Cleo and Rob by Helen Brown

Dear Grandpa by Kate Simpson

Theodore the Unsure by Pip Smith

Ask Hercules Quick by Ursula Dubosarky

The Cute Penguin by Gabriel Evans

When Billy Was a Dog by Kirsty Murray

Baz & Benz by Heidi McKinnon

Ivanhoe Swift Left Home at Six by Jane Godwin

Are These Hen’s Eggs by Christina Booth

Miss Kraken by Nicki Greenberg

Pennies for Hitler by Jackie French

The Naked Penguin by Kym Larder

Whitney and Britney, Chicken Divas by Lucinda Gifford – Review

 

AWW Update Oct-Dec

Curiously I read nothing by Aussie women in October or November so from my update in Oct I am jumping into December. A lot of these are picture books because aside from trying to find some cute Chrissy picture books I sussed out the CBCA list and read a few of those as well. I found a few missing from the previous update so I’ve added them in where they belong but even without those I’ve added another 15 books in December. It brings my total to 58 which is pretty awesome. I haven’t reviewed all of these yet but I will be so I’ll have to count that towards next year’s reviews. There’s some pretty fun books on this list though so I’m looking forward to reviewing them soon.

AWW20 BOOKS Oct – Dec

All I Want for Christmas is Rain by Cori Brooke

Please Don’t Hug Me by Kay Kerr

This Is a Ball by Beck Stanton

Who’s Your Real Mum? by Bernadette Green

My Folks Grew Up in the ’80s by Beck Feiner

The Red Book by Beck Stanton

There’s no such thing! By Heidi McKinnon

All Through The Year by Jane Godwin

Reindeer’s Christmas Surprise by Ursula Dubosarsky

Little Dog and the Christmas Wish by Corinne Fenton

A Very Quacky Christmas by Frances Watts – Review

What Do You Wish For? by Jane Godwin

Tea and Sugar Christmas by Jane Jolly

An Aussie Day Before Christmas by Kilmeny Niland – Review

Santa and the Sugar Glider by Alexa Moses

AWW20 TOTAL

Read: 58/40

Reviewed: 20/30

An Aussie Day Before Christmas by Kilmeny Niland

Published: 1st October 2010Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Scholastic
Illustrator: Kilmeny Niland
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

It’s the day before Christmas in Australia and Santa is in a tizz! So much to do — prezzies to wrap, the ute to check and eight ‘roos to choose. But not everything is going to plan. The helpers have gone and the ‘roos can’t be found! What will Santa do now?

I was sceptical when I picked up this book but I was pleasantly surprised and found I really enjoyed it. The narrative is written with the same poetic style as the original Night Before Christmas, but Niland brings an Aussie feeling to the story which worked surprisingly well. This is a sequel of sorts to Yvonne Morrison’s An Aussie Night Before Christmas which Niland illustrated.

One of the things I enjoyed was that the story is Australian without being over the top Australian. Niland uses Aussie language and Aussie slang without the full on cringe that some books cause when the use over the top words and phrases that don’t even sound natural to Australians. Classics like brekkie, dunny and other Aussie slang make an appearance but Niland’s illustrations add an explanation element without distracting from the story for those unaware of the meanings or intentions.

With roos instead of reindeer more Aussie nicknames come forward, and even by now I hadn’t grown tired of the Australianness of the story. You can always tell when an author tries too hard but Niland balances it well between a fun Christmas story while also having it tolerable to read aloud and not be so filled with slang that it becomes incomprehensible.

The illustrations are cute and I loved the design style used for not only Santa and his misses but also the native animals and the Australian environment. Through the rhyme Niland captures other elements of an Australian summer Christmas with the mention of blow flies, cicadas and the Aussie salute. A few Australian places are mentioned which adds some local identifiers and it was great to see Santa get ready for the big night with his summer gear on.

This is a fun and uniquely Aussie story that is also familiar as it lines up with the well-known classic. It’s fun to read aloud as you get caught up in the rhythm and with the use of the Aussie language you get to have a bit of fun with it as well. It’s also a great way to show off how Santa gets ready for his big night.

You can purchase An Aussie Day Before Christmas via the following

Amazon

A Very Quacky Christmas by Frances Watts

Published: 23rd October 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
ABC Books
Illustrator: Ann James
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Samantha Duck is getting ready for Christmas and her friend Sebastian thinks she’s silly. After all, he says, Christmas isn’t for animals. But Samantha knows that Christmas is for everyone and sets out to make sure that all the animals have a very quacky Christmas (and a tortoise new year) 

This is such a cute book. Samantha Duck is trying to spread the Christmas cheer for all the animals but is constantly being reminded by her friend Sebastian that animals don’t do Christmas. I liked this because even though Sebastian keeps telling Samantha that she shouldn’t be doing Christmas, he still helps her make decorations and presents. I also loved how they go around and collect things from other animals who want to help like eggs and wool, and it is a lovely story about how even the simplest gesture can mean a lot.

The illustrations are adorable, James has done a brilliant job. I loved the designs on Samantha and Sebastian, and having a visual as Samantha decorates and they create their presents was a great bonus of enjoyment on top of an already sweet story. The water colours and roughly lined illustrations of the characters and scenery works well and they alter between full pages and smaller drawings with the text sharing half the page. The colours bring a feeling of nature as well as the summer Christmas atmosphere which we definitely need more representation of.

There is so much heart and determination Watts has put into a seemingly simple story but is also filled with its own bit of Christmas magic and it is a truly special little Christmas story.

You can purchase A Very Quacky Christmas via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Those Other Women by Nicola Moriarty

Published: 19th March 2018 (print)/25 April 2018 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
HarperCollins Australia/Wavesound Audio
Pages: 448/11 hrs and 52 mins
Narrator: Louise Crawford
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Fiction
★   ★   ★  ★  – 4 Stars

Poppy’s world has been tipped sideways: the husband who never wanted children has betrayed her with her broody best friend. At least Annalise is on her side. Her new friend is determined to celebrate their freedom from kids, so together they create a Facebook group to meet up with like-minded women, and perhaps vent just an little about smug mummies’ privileges at work.

Meanwhile, their colleague Frankie would love a night out, away from her darlings – she’s not had one this decade and she’s heartily sick of being judged by women at the office as well as stay-at-home mums. Then Poppy and Annalise’s group takes on a life of its own and frustrated members start confronting mums like Frankie in the real world. Cafés become battlegrounds, playgrounds become war zones and offices have never been so divided.

A rivalry that was once harmless fun is spiralling out of control. Because one of their members is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And she has an agenda of her own.

This is a fascinating contemporary story about social media, modern parenting and the vindictiveness people are capable of when they feel justified in their actions. One thing I loved was Moriarty’s choice of narrators. Through the first few parts it alternates between Poppy and Annalise but when we get to see a third party, through Frankie’s eyes, I was amazed how I suddenly saw the previous events through different eyes. I could see how horrible Poppy and Annalise were being and it was a fascinating example of untrusty narrators and how perspective changes intent and meaning.

There are surprises and stereotypes that take sharp turns just when you think you know what is going on, a skill Moriarty is quite good at. She brings new twists to old clichés and I loved that it brought more depth and life to this story and the characters as a result. There is no relying on well-known tropes but Moriarty does play on them to her own advantage. In doing so it adds another level to the narrative and it reinforces the notion that people’s lives are complicated and there are a lot of different lives being led with problems of their own. Jumping to obvious conclusions is detrimental and damaging and it was fantastic to be drawn in myself and have it thrown back at me for my own assumptions. If you pay attention there are hints and clues that come to light after your whole viewpoint has shifted. This muddies the waters as more information doesn’t necessarily make things clearer but it definitely made it more intriguing.

The concept of having children versus remaining childless is confusingly a point of contention. This was something I was fascinated to read about because clearly there is an entire world of contention that I have been cut out of. The experiences described in this book will no doubt be familiar to some, certainly on both sides, and while I know of the general judgements and opinions, seeing it play out before me with Facebook groups and battles between mums and non-mums was a curious insight into a world I have never come across before. I’m hoping Moriarty took creative licencing with some of this because it was wild reading about these Facebook groups and what some of these women do.

Moriarty lays forth a story that has mystery and deceit, not to mention drama and emotional torment in her usual style. Crawford does a great job as narrator too. Her tone and pacing was great and didn’t distract from the story in any way. Overall it is engaging, captivating, a definite reflection of the modern parenting experience as well as the experiences of those left out of the conversation.

You can purchase Those Other Women via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

 

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