Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2013 – Rachel’s Wrap-Up

See the AWW13 Challenge we set ourselves here

So, I predicted I would not finish my challenge about mid-way through 2013, and unfortunately, I was right. I read 5 out of 7, with 3 of them being DNF. There is absolutely nothing about reading 7 books in a year that is difficult for me, but for some reason, I just didn’t end up reading all the ones I put on my list, despite reminding myself I needed to every few months. HOWEVER, I know I read over 7 Australian books by female writers in 2013, so I’m going to be a bit of a cheater and rate books not on my list and review a book not on my list (you can see my original list here).

1 star – What the living shit did I just read? How did this get published? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?

2 stars – I finished it, I did not like it and I would not recommend it.

3 stars – I enjoyed it and I will probably read it again one fine day when my TBR pile isn’t 300+. I may or may not recommend it.

4 stars – I really, really liked it. I will definitely reread it and recommend to others!

5 stars – Love. It’s love. Straight onto my favourites shelf. I will be unable to shut up about this book and be constantly forcing it on family, friends, random strangers…

My Ratings:

The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta – 5 stars

Endless amounts of love for this book. At this point, I am going to suggest you check out our blog if you haven’t already done so. In it, you will find endless rantings about how much I (and Annette) love this and other Melina Marchetta books.  You can also find my thoughts on the novel here.

Divine Clementine by Hayley S. Kirk – 2.5 stars

All This Could End by Steph Bowe – 3.5 stars

Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield – 4 stars

Suburban Freak Show by Julia Lawrinson – 3 stars

Saltwater Moons by Julie Gittus – 2 stars

Stolen by Lucy Christopher, Love Like Water by Meme McDonald & Chain Of Hearts by Maureen McCarthy were my DNF books

My Review:

Life In Outer Space by Melissa Keil – 4 stars

Set in Melbourne, the story follows MC Sam Kinnison, Star Wars + horror movie fanatic, and his small group of fellow geeks as they navigate their way through their penultimate year of high school. Sam is happy enough with the status quo, until new girl Camilla Carter walks into the IT office and turns his world upside-down.

Life In Outer Space was one of those books that I’d-read-about-was-really-excited-for-hurry-up-release-date, then completely forgot about until I saw it sitting on the shelf in Dymocks. I was actually shopping with Annette at the time and we decided to treat ourselves to one book each (although, to be honest, I was going to buy it anyway). I started it a few days after buying it and ended up devouring it in one day. I loved it. It made me happy and it’s not often I read a book that made me laugh and smile as hard as this one did. It was refreshing to read something that wasn’t too deep and didn’t leave me wrecked with sad feels for days after (not that I don’t love that), or worse; a book that fell short of my expectations and made me feel like I wasted my time on.

At the start of LiOS, Sam is just coasting along, barely surviving the horror that is high school and Camilla is just what he needs to shake him awake from his ordinary existence. While I didn’t find Sam particulary swoon-worthy, I loved his internal monologue. Melissa Keil hit the nail on the head with a perfect blend of humour and wit and Sam’s confusion over how the effortlessly cool Camilla was changing things for himself and his misfit friends was very entertaining to read.

I fell in love with stoic Mike, idiotic Adrian and quirky Allison just as much as Sam and Camilla.

‘Mike is beside me, expressionless and silent, as is his MO in any public setting. With his brown hair and brown clothes, Mike blends in to most backgrounds. I’m half-expecting him to develop the ability to change skin colour as well, like a cuttlefish.’

‘Adrian appears beside me, glaring down the corridor. He has his about-to-open-a-can-of-whoop-arse face on. Objectively, Adrian Radley has zero cans of whoop-arse to open.’

‘On my other side, Allison Winfield is doodling on her loose-leaf with a chewed on Hello Kitty pencil. She looks sideways at me and grimaces. She grimaces a lot. I don’t always understand why. But in spite of the Hello Kitty, I know that a habitual grimacer is one of my people.’

Some of my favourite parts:

– Sam’s method in his determination to get to the bottom of Mike’s ‘downward spiral’ (which is, of course, inspired by a movie) in the last quarter of the book was when I was laughing the most.

– The explanation of the Extremely Gay Weekend. Hahaha

– Sam and Camilla’s speeches to each other at the end of the book.

So to sum up, Life In Outer Space is a stunning debut novel. It’s light and fun and you’ll finish it with a big smile on your face… and maybe a toothache from the sweetness. Definitely go out and buy it, you won’t regret it!


Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2013 – Annette’s Wrap-Up

See the AWW13 Challenge we set ourselves here

While we will only be reviewing 1 book each, we thought it might be interesting to rate the other books that we read. I’ve also added hyperlinks to other blogger reviews that reflect my feelings of the book.  I am slightly nervous about this as I hope it is not portrayed as though I am using others material as my own.  So, a disclaimer that I hope will suffice; Yes, I am linking to other reviews due to my own laziness, but I have chosen to do this (as opposed to not posting anything at all) in the hope of creating more traffic for people who actually have skill and experience in writing reviews.

1 star – I hated it and I would like those hours of my life back.

2 stars – I finished it, I disliked it and I would not recommend it.

3 stars – I enjoyed it although I wouldn’t read it again.  I may or may not recommend it.

4 stars – I really liked this book and would definitely recommend it to others.

5 stars – I will become comparative to a drug pusher and ensure that every person I come into contact with reads this book.

First things first, my ratings;


5 (billion) stars –  Instead of re-directing you to another bloggers review, in this case I am going to suggest you check out our blog if you haven’t already done so.  In it, you will find endless rantings about how much I (and Rachel) love this and other Melina Marchetta books.  You can also find my thoughts on the novel here.

crow country

2 stars –  review here


1 star –  review here

pocketful of eyes

3.5 stars – review here

girl saves boy

3.5 stars – review here


3 stars – review here

And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, my first ever review…

raw blue

4 stars

In 2011 I saw Kirsty Eagar at the Reading Matters Conference.  I hadn’t read Raw Blue at this stage, but despite this, something that Kirsty said stayed with me; it was along the lines of ‘not wanting to detail exactly what had happened because that isn’t what the story is about’.  I also remember the audience clapping at this point, so if what Kirsty said hadn’t peaked my interest, then the effect on the audience certainly did.  Despite my curiosity and wanting, I didn’t read Raw Blue for almost 2 years.  But I’m glad I did because now, what Kirsty said back in Storey Hall in 2011, makes absolute sense.

Raw Blue focuses on the life of Carly, 2 years after she is the victim of a terrible crime.  As a result of this experience, Carly drops out of Uni, moves to Manly, gets a night shift job at a Café and spends her days doing the only thing she still has a passion for; surfing.  With such a large focus on surfing, there is naturally a lot of ‘surf talk’.  At first I found this a bit off-putting because I thought I wouldn’t be able to relate, but this wasn’t the case at all.  Carly is so passionate about surfing, that I found myself relating to that, leaving the reason behind the passion to be largely irrelevant

The book was also incredibly refreshing, not only due to the believable and ‘normal’ characters (there is a boy in the book who doesn’t have a crooked smile or play guitar!), but because it wasn’t just another teenage angst, triangle love story.  As a YA reader, I find it incredibly frustrating when a) people assume that all YA novels are teen romance or sci-fi and b) I read a series of books that do fit this criteria. So it’s always nice to find a YA novel that deals with tough subjects.  If you haven’t read Raw Blue, you may want to stop reading at this point as there will be *spoilers*.  Raw Blue is more than a story about a girl who likes to surf; it’s a story about a girl who is trying to overcome the emotional and psychological effects that come with being a victim of rape.  When I saw Kirsty speaking at Reading Matters 2011, this is what she was referring too.  The book tells you enough to know what happened, but it doesn’t go into detail – and it doesn’t need to.  The main reason that I enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to others, is that Kirsty was brave enough to tackle an incredibly tricky topic and she did it in a way that was informative and respectful.  As a Youth Worker, I come into contact with too many young people, male and female, who have been victims of sexual abuse and it is still such a taboo topic.  So thank you Kirsty Eagar for telling a story that demands to be told.

AWW 2013 – Our Lists

It took some time, but we have narrowed down our enormous to-read lists and have finalised which books we will be reading for the AWW 2013 challenge.  The lists are as follows;


Love Like Water  – Meme McDonald

The Story Of Tom Brennan – J.C. Burke

Stolen – Lucy Christopher

Chain of Hearts – Maureen McCarthy

Divine Clementine – Hayley. S. Kirk

Saltwater Vampires – Kirsty Eager

The Piper’s Son – Melina Marchetta


Raw Blue – Kirsty Eager

Girl Saves Boy – Steph Bowe

Mercy – Rebecca Lim

A Pocketful of Eyes – Lili Wilkinson

Shift – Em Bailey

Crow Country – Kate Constable

On The Jellicoe Road – Melina Marchetta

We will be reviewing our favourite book from our list (not including Melina Marchetta books).  Stay tuned!!

Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2013

When we heard about the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge, we were excited because being Australian Women who love books, we thought this was a great way to celebrate and promote a very under-rated market.  As there are 2 of us, our challenge will be the following;

We will each read 7 YA books and we will each do only 1 review; that of our favourite book.  Oh, we are also challenging ourselves to include only 1 Melina Marchetta book in our list (this is significantly difficult for obvious reasons) and we WILL NOT do our review on that book because we already cover them in our other posts.

We haven’t yet decided which books we will be reading, but we will keep you posted!!