Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017 (#AWW2017)

 

aww2017

Since the launch of “Voices under the Sun” as a blog in February 2012, I have posted 26 book reviews. Among these, 21 were written in 2016 as part of my efforts to promote book reviewing. As a publisher of Chinese digital and print books that is dedicated to helping all emerging and established authors, literary agents and publishers to promote their titles in the Chinese World, I also want to do my best to support independent authors in Australia and other parts of the world.

Specifically, when I signed up for the Australian Women Writers Challenge for the first time a year ago, I pledged to read and review 10 books by Australian women writers. Now I am pleased to report that in 2016, I reviewed a total of 12 books:

  1. The Dark Heavens Trilogy (White Tiger, Red Phoenix, Blue Dragon) by Kylie Chan
  2. Never Tell Me Never by Janine Shepherd
  3. Through the Wall by Anna Bligh
  4. Seeing the Elephant by Portland Jones
  5. Ghost Girls by Cath Ferla
  6. Medea’s Curse by Anne Buist
  7. Deadly Australian Women by Kay Saunders
  8. Black Widow by Carol Baxter
  9. This House of Grief by Helen Garner
  10. Last Woman Hanged by Caroline Overington
  11. Visiting the Neighbours: Australians in Asia by Agnieszka Sobocinska
  12. Footsteps in an Empty Room by Lilly Sommers

There are books I had read but were unable to complete the writing of their reviews before the end of 2016 – these are coming early this year. Of course, there were also books I had started reading but soon abandoned due to a mismatch of literary tastes. In spite of my self-perception as a genre fiction junkie, I am surprised by how much I enjoy reading non-fiction books, especially those of an auto/biographical and/or academic nature. More importantly, while the dark side of human nature continues to fascinate me, I am glad that true heroes and heroines within and outside of the fictional world can still inspire me to hope for the best.

In general, half of my reading list is built on people’s reviews and recommendations on Twitter. Among the 500 or so individuals, groups and organisations that I follow across the literary, journalistic, academic and socio-political fields in Australia and overseas, there are often excellent suggestions for the next items on my to-be-read list. To me, this makes Twitter a far more diverse and attractive source of potential reading material than popular platforms such as Goodreads. i.e. If I trust you enough to follow you on Twitter, then there is a great chance that I will aspire to read the books you have read and even written.

The other half of my reading list derives from what I refer to as “chance encounters” – see the list below. These include titles I literally bump into in our local library, calls for book reviewers from literary journals, items that happen to be on (huge) sale in real and online bookstores, and those independent authors, literary agents and publishers who are so kind that they let me review their front lists (and occasionally the back ones as well). The general rule here is to support independent and emerging authors with constructive criticism, while allowing myself to be a bit grouchy about the established ones.

  1. Raised by Our Childhood Voices: One father’s journey to raise confident, connected, compassionate boys by Darrell Brown
  2. A Solitary Romance by Violet Sparks
  3. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
  4. Gol by J.W. Webb
  5. I Wish I Could Remember You by L.J. Epps
  6. The Last Roadshow by John Czarnota
  7. Masked Dolls by Shih Chiung-Yu (translated by Wang Xinlin and Poppy Toland)
  8. The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly
  9. A Companion to the Future by Ian Martyn
  10. The Balloon, Mount Tembura and the Flying Carpet by Fernanda Raineri
  11. Bad Memories by Douglas Sandler
  12. The Transhuman Antihero by Michael Grantham
  13. Going Against Type by Sharon Black
  14. Revival by Stephen King

While reviewing a book, I refuse to summarise the plot and/or reveal its ending. I also avoid easy judgement such as a “like” or “four/five stars” – which, I must confess here, leads to my reluctance to post copies of my book reviews on popular platforms such as Goodreads and Amazon. It is true that I spend time to write a review for a book because I want to support its author. But the purpose of my reviews is to help you understand why the book is worth reading and how to analyse, appreciate and advocate for its beauty and strength. In other words, my book reviews are written for readers and sometimes writers as well, i.e. they are definitely not for buyers. Those who want to see stars should simply go and purchase a telescope.

And, so, after all this rambling, I have signed up for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017. I have pledged to read and review 10 books by Australian women writers this year, but I hope I can increase the number of written book reviews to 15. Meanwhile, I will continue to review books by other authors (male and female, emerging and established, traditionally and independently published) in Australia and other parts of the world. Please feel free to contact me if you have a title in mind.

 

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Elizabeth Lhuede
    Jan 05, 2017 @ 06:34:11

    Thanks for your contribution to the challenge in 2016, Christine, and great to hear you’ll be with us again for #AWW2017. I very much appreciate your articulation of how and why you review.

    Reply

  2. whisperinggums
    Jan 09, 2017 @ 07:29:16

    Thanks for this post Christine which pretty much says about reviewing the way I see and do it.

    I have started linking my reviews on GoodReads, just last year as a regular thing though I’ve been a member for several years, but nearly every book gets a 4. If I read it I usually like it, and that’s what my 4 says. I’m not at all comfortable with fine “marking” of creative work.

    Reply

  3. Christine Sun
    Jan 09, 2017 @ 22:58:31

    Hello whisperinggums, many thanks for your comment. I have linked my blog to GoodReads so my reviews eventually do get to be posted there on my page as an author. On rare occasions I also remember to re-post reviews there. :p Cheers, Christine Sun.

    Reply

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