First Chapter, First Paragraph


Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Introsto share the first paragraph sometimes two, of a book that she’s reading or planning to read soon.

“You… You… You… edit my life… You are my wife, my Mac the Knife–the witticism here being that he may edit one of the half-dozen-or-so most important newspapers in the United States, the Miami Herald, but she is the one who edits him. She… edits… him. Last week he totally forgot to call the dean, the one with the rehabilitated harelip, at their son Fiver’s boarding school, Hotchkiss, and Mac, his wife, his Mac the Knife, was justifiably put out about it… but then he had sort-of-sung his little rhyme of his to the tune of ‘You Light Up My life’. You…edit my life… You are my wife, my Mac the Knife–and it made her smile in spite of herself, and the smile dissolved the mood, which was I’m fed up with you and your trifling ways. Could it possibly work again–now? Did he dare give it another shot?~Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe


Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe

As a police launch speeds across Miami’s Biscayne Bay-with our hero, officer Nestor Camacho, on board-Tom Wolfe is off and running headlong into the only city in the world where people from a different country with a different language and a different culture have taken over at the ballot box.

This melting pot is full of hard cases who just won’t melt, damn it: a Cuban mayor; a black police chief; a hot young reporter and a timid editor of the Miami Herald, both WASPs who went to Yale; an Anglo sex-addiction psychiatrist who keeps his lovely Latina nurse, Magdalena, in his bed and his star patient, a porn-addicted billionaire, on a string; a status-addled Haitian professor who thinks he’s really French and wants his pale-skinned daughter to “pass” and his Creole-spouting son to be quiet.

Then there are the clueless collectors who “See it! Like it! Buy it!,” spending tens of millions per minute on de-skilled art at Miami Art Basel; black drug dealers colliding with the Cuban cops; Columbus Day Regatta “spectators” who only have eyes for the annual après-race orgy; and “Active Adult” condos full of yenta-heavy ex-New Yorkers, not to mention a nest of shady Russians.

Juliet Marillier: Den of Wolves (Blackthorn & Grim #3)


Juliet Marillier was born July 27, 1948 in Dunedin, New Zealand and grew up surrounded by Celtic music and stories. Her own Celtic-Gaelic roots inspired her to write her first series, the Sevenwaters Trilogy. Juliet was educated at the University of Otago, where she majored in music and languages, graduating BA and a B Mus (Hons). Her lifelong interest in history, folklore and mythology has had a major influence on her writing.

Juliet is the author of twenty historical fantasy novels for adults and young adults, as well as a book of short fiction. Juliet’s novels and short stories have won many awards.
Juliet lives in a 110 year old cottage in a riverside suburb of Perth, Western Australia. When not writing, she is active in animal rescue and has her own small pack of needy dogs. She also has four adult children and seven grandchildren. Juliet is a member of the druid order OBOD (the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.)

Find Juliet on: goodreads  |  website  |  facebook

Q&A with Juliet

Quick Qs

Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate? Dark, always.

Coffee or Tea? Tea while I work, a long black as the occasional treat.

Dog-ear or whatever else as bookmark? I never, ever dog-ear – I was taught to respect books! I have lots of bookmarks, proper ones.

Plot or Character? Character first, but you need a good plot too.

HEA or unexpected twist? Provided at least one character has made a journey and become wiser / learned something / developed as a person, either is OK. HEA is probably not realistic – happy for some is not happy for all – but I don’t like an unresolved ending.

Q: You have previously mentioned that Blackthorn & Grim are ‘more damaged than those in [your] previous books’. What was the inspiration behind these 2 characters? Why did you choose to write such broken characters and what motivate you to put these two in partnership?

A: I knew some readers were keen for me to write an older female protagonist – that was part of the inspiration for Blackthorn, who is oldish by early medieval standards, though we’d barely call her middle-aged now. They lived much shorter lives in those times.

I’d been reading a lot about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially in the military, and wanted to write about characters scarred by terrible events in the past, trying to work their way through, alone or together. I thought it would be more interesting to write, and to read, characters who were less heroic, less physically attractive, and generally harder to like than some of my previous protagonists. I ended up loving both Blackthorn and Grim. I think their flaws make them more real. As for putting them in partnership, I have seen how much the support of peers can mean to people with PTSD. I thought of Blackthorn and Grim as somewhat like Modesty Blaise and Willy Garvin, who share a deep friendship and mutual support.


I know that whilst you had a longer series in mind, Blackthorn & Grim has only contracted a 3 book deal. I am rather disappointed in having to say goodbye though I hope we may meet again sooner than later!

Yes, I had thought the publishers might approve of my writing a couple more in the series even though the initial contract was for three books. After all, Blackthorn does agree to keep to Conmael’s rules for seven years – but the publisher asked me to wrap it up in Den of Wolves. To my surprise I managed to make it work well in the three books. I’m satisfied with the overall story arc. But I am sure Blackthorn and Grim went on solving mysteries and having weird adventures.

Q: You’ve mentioned that it’s been tricky to find a balance so that Den of Wolves has a rounded ending for a trilogy and yet leave also a possibility for more in the future. Is there a particular theme/topic you’d like to tackle with these two characters that you haven’t yet explored?

A: There are many possibilities, but sharing them would probably create spoilers for people who have not yet read Den of Wolves.

Q: In my review of Dreamer’s Pool, I compared it to Ariana Franklin’s Mistress of the Art of Deathmistress-of-the-art-of-death with a fairy tale spin. Are you familiar with this book/series? Is there a particular ‘mystery’ book that inspires you to incorporate mystery into your fantasy historical works? (If anyone is interested, my review for Mistress of the Art of Death can be found here.)

A: I haven’t read Mistress of the Art of Death, but I will do so on your recommendation. I love well-crafted historical mystery series – Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher books are a favourite, and I love the Brother Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters. As well as the stand-alone mystery plots, both of those series have beautifully researched, evocative period detail and casts of central characters with personal stories that slowly develop through the whole series. Blackthorn & Grim was my attempt to do something similar. I’m not sure if the next project will be a mystery or something completely different.

Q: I loved this quote at the end of Tower of Thorns,

” What happened felt too big to take in. It was a tale of cowardice and courage, intrigue and simple goodness, choices that were complicated mixtures of right and wrong.”

This summarises what I feel about this book. I think fairy tales are usually about making the right choices; do your characters make their own choices or do they need your guidance? How do you find the balance between having them making their decisions [in character] and where you want them to be?

A: I always try to keep them in character. That means they often take a long time to get around to making those right choices, and sometimes they never actually do so, because that’s how it is in real life. And even in a story that contains magical elements, the human characters are just that – human, flawed and fallible. They make mistakes, they stumble and lose their way, they hurt those they care about. But they can also be brave, unselfish, and honourable. As the writer, it’s up to me to make the characters believable. While I’m writing they feel entirely real to me.

Q: In the Acknowledgements of Den of Wolves, you’ve noted that the idea came from ‘a traditional tale from western Scotland, Big MacVurich and the Monster.’ For those of us who have not read the book nor have any knowledge of this particular tale, could you share a little on what this particular tale is about? Also what about this tale that inspire you to incorporate it in a Blackthorn & Grim’s story?

A: I can’t share much about the original tale without giving away a central plot element from Den of Wolves. As a druid I was inspired to write a story in which trees played a central part. The old tale is about a special house made using wood from every kind of tree in the forest. Each tree has a particular significance in druidic lore, and therefore each conveys a specific blessing on the person who builds the house, or has it built – prosperity, fertility, compassion, insight and so on. I called this construction a heartwood house. Den of Wolves doesn’t follow the MacVurich tale exactly, but just as the original story is quite dark, so is my variation on it. If there’s a lesson in the story, it’s this: Don’t dabble with magic unless you have pure and unselfish intentions, because magic always comes with a cost, and that cost may be more than you can afford to pay. Den of Wolves also has a theme of love, and how the power of love can draw people together or push them apart.

Q: When we first met Blackthorn, she was screaming for revenge and this was her focus for living. How would you describe her growth at the end of Den of Wolves? (This might be a bit tough without giving away too much of the story) Was this a tough journey for you as well as you write?

A: She was very much focussed on bringing her enemy to justice, yes, not only because of what he had done to her and her loved ones, but also for his many crimes against other innocents. This was really eating her up, sometimes causing her to lose her good judgement and making it impossible for her to get on with her life. Some of those scenes were hard to write; I think there’s quite a lot of me in Blackthorn. I felt the wrench with her each time she was halted in her efforts to make it happen, and I also felt the full impact of her unexpected moment of truth in Den of Wolves.


“Of all my books, I like this [David Copperfield] best. It will be easily believed that I am a fond parent to every child of my fancy, and that no one can ever love that family as dearly as I love them. But, like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is David Copperfield.” –Charles Dickens

Juliet, which is your favourite ‘child’? Why? Or is there a top-secret manuscript that you have been polishing for the umpteenth time? If so, would you share a little of it with us?

A: My favourite child is usually whatever book I am currently working on, or the last one completed. Blackthorn & Grim is definitely my favourite series. Of the earlier books, I am quite fond of Son of the Shadows, with its supporting cast of oddball tattooed warriors. No top secret manuscript, sorry – at least nothing that should ever see the light of day! I could share a snippet from my forthcoming novella, Beautiful, mentioned below.

The year I turned seven Rune came, and my whole life changed. He climbed up the glass mountain with no trouble at all, using his claws. Rune was a bear. If anything in the world was beautiful, he was. His eyes were the blue of a summer sky. His fur was long and soft, with every shade in it from shadow grey to dazzling white. His ears were the shape of flower petals, and his smile … Could a bear smile? It seemed to me that this one could, and although his smile was full of sharp teeth, it, too, was beautiful. There was a sadness in it that went deep down. I was at my high window when he came, and as I watched him climb steadily onward, I felt my heart turn over with wonder.


I love all your books, Juliet, but one in particular haunted me to this day, Daughter of the Forest. I couldn’t sleep whilst I was reading it as your words continued to echo in my mind and my heart ached so badly for Sorcha.

It’s interesting how that novel, the one I wrote as therapy rather than for publication, has remained one of the most popular with readers.

Q: What are you working on now? Or what can we look for from you next?

A: 2017 will be the first year I haven’t had a new novel out since Daughter of the Forest was published in 1999. I’m hoping 2018 will see the first in a new fairy tale fantasy trilogy, featuring an older and a younger woman, plus some unquiet spirits. I do have a novella coming out in a collection from Ticonderoga. My story is called Beautiful. It’s an unusual reworking of the fairy tale, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, about a girl who marries a white bear. I’m hoping that will be published in the first half of 2017.

Q: I have read also that you mentor quite a number of authors. Which upcoming authors/books should we look out for?

A: I only mentor occasionally and usually only one writer at a time. For people who haven’t already read Meg Caddy’s novel Waer, which came out earlier this year from Text Publishing, I highly recommend it for young adult readers. It’s a great combination of well-crafted writing, anwaer interesting story and a completely non-cliched portrayal of werewolves. I was Meg’s mentor when she was still a high school student, and I’m really proud of her success. I’m looking forward to her new novel – I’ve had a sneak peek.

Also, look out for Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer, to be published by Tor in early 2017. It’s a highly original fantasy for adult readers, set in a culture of tree-dwellers, and very rich in its world building. Thoraiya and I are colleagues and close friends despite living on opposite sides of Australia, and I was lucky enough to read an advance copy. Thoraiya is already well respected as a writer of short fiction, but Crossroads of Canopy is her first novel. If you love an intricately constructed world with stunning visual detail, you’ll really enjoy this book.


Juliet’s latest book


den-of-wolvesDen of Wolves (Blackthorn & Grim #3)

Feather bright and feather fine, None shall harm this child of mine…

Healer Blackthorn knows all too well the rules of her bond to the fey: seek no vengeance, help any who ask, do only good. But after the recent ordeal she and her companion, Grim, have suffered, she knows she cannot let go of her quest to bring justice to the man who ruined her life.

Despite her personal struggles, Blackthorn agrees to help the princess of Dalriada in taking care of a troubled young girl who has recently been brought to court, while Grim is sent to the girl’s home at Wolf Glen to aid her wealthy father with a strange task—repairing a broken-down house deep in the woods. It doesn’t take Grim long to realize that everything in Wolf Glen is not as it seems—the place is full of perilous secrets and deadly lies…

Back at Winterfalls, the evil touch of Blackthorn’s sworn enemy reopens old wounds and fuels her long-simmering passion for justice. With danger on two fronts, Blackthorn and Grim are faced with a heartbreaking choice—to stand once again by each other’s side or to fight their battles alone…

My Blurb

Please note this review is in relation to the third and final book in the Blackthorn & Grim trilogy; if you are interested you may find my review for book 1, Dreamer’s Pool, here and book 2, Tower of Thorns, here.

Juliet Marillier never disappoints –her prose as lyrical and captivating as ever. Her choice of fairy tale is obscure interestingly dark, if not intriguing, yet woven through them are patches of light/goodness. I very much appreciate Marillier’s tendency to end her novels with hope because a novel with a hopeless end is something I cannot stand! Thankfully, this finale has been concluded in a rather satisfying way.

Blackthorn & Grim are home but yet trouble is never far away. Cries for help find them and as they cannot stand puzzles, they begin to unravel them strand by strand. In this book, we have a mad old man called Bardan and a strange young girl on the verge of womanhood, Cara. Bardan does not quite seem to know himself except that he has lost a treasure. Cara, on the other hand, seems to have everything, being the only daughter and heir of Wolf Glen. Yet, deep inside them, they know something is not quite the way it should be.

Choices were made, with love, whether for good or bad, with consequences that echoed through time. Some part of this reminds me of The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman which was one of the most heartbreaking book I’ve ever read, especially for me as a young mother. I found the main mystery to be rather predictable or rather, I worked out who’s who in relation to the fairytale and had a rough idea of how but Marillier sort it out in a rather neat way.

I was rather frustrated with the end book 2, Tower of Thorns; of Blackthorn’s thick-headedness (didn’t you?!?!). And yet, with all the angst in this book, I felt totally weird and awkward about it… which is I supposed how they felt about it! A masterly touch for romance… There’s hope for all us awkwards😉

Den of Wolves is like a bird’s nest… What seemed to be a mess of sticks bunched together from afar but up close, you can see those sticks intertwined in meticulous care and formed a safe & loving home. That is just how Juliet Marillier has concluded this trilogy of Blackthorn & Grim! I still do have hope for more😉

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review and for organising the interview. Juliet, my deepest thanks for your time and above all, for sharing your words and wisdom.

Blog Tour: Black Jade by Kylie Chan

 Dog Eared Publicity is pleased to bring you Kylie Chan’s BLACK JADE virtual book tour September 26 to October 21!

Inside the Book:

Title: Black Jade
Author: Kylie Chan
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Genre: Paranormal
Format: Ebook/Paperback

From the international bestselling author of The Dark Heavens and Journey to Wudang series..

The Heavenly defenses struggle to hold against the combined might of the Eastern and Western demon hordes. The God of War Xuan Wu is now at full strength — but is his might enough to safeguard the realm when half the Heavens are already in their hands? John and Emma fight a last-ditch desperate struggle to conserve their kingdom and their protect their families.

But will the kingdom ever be the same again?



Meet the Author:


Kylie Chan married a Hong Kong national in a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony in Eastern China, lived in Australia for ten years, then moved to Hong Kong for ten years and during that time learnt a great deal about Chinese culture and came to appreciate the customs and way of life.

In 2003 she closed down her successful IT consultancy company in Hong Kong and moved back to Australia.  She decided to use her knowledge of Chinese mythology, culture, and martial arts to weave a story that would appeal to a wide audience.

Since returning to Australia, Kylie has studied Kung Fu (Wing Chun and Southern Chow Clan styles) as well as Tai Chi and is now a senior belt in both forms.  She has also made an intensive study of Buddhist and Taoist philosophy and has brought all of these together into her storytelling.

Kylie is a mother of two who lives in Brisbane.

Visit her at


Tour Schedule

 Monday, September 26 – Book featured at Books, Dreams, Life
Book featured at 3 Partners in Shopping
Tuesday, September 27 – Guest blogging at Centeno Books
Wednesday, September 28 – Interviewed at I’m Shelf-ish
Thursday, September 29 – Book featured at A Title Wave
Friday, September 30 – Book featured at Bound 2 Escape
Monday, October 3 – Book featured at CBY Book Club
Tuesday, October 4 – Guest blogging at Voodoo Princess
Wednesday, October 5 – Interviewed at The Writer’s Life
Thursday, October 6 – Guest blogging at The Dark Phantom
Friday, October 7 – Book featured at Book Cover Junkie
Monday, October 10 – Book featured at Mello and June
Tuesday, October 11 – Book featured at The Hype and the Hoopla
Wednesday, October 12 – Guest blogging at Tien’s Blurb
Thursday, October 13 – Book featured at My Bookish Pleasures
Friday, October 14 – Book featured at The Review From Here
Monday, October 17 – Guest blogging at Write and Take Flight
Tuesday, October 18 – Interviewed at Deal Sharing Aunt
Wednesday, October 19 – Book featured at Harmonious Publicity
Thursday, October 20 – Book featured at Celticlady’s Reviews
Friday, October 21 – Guest blogging at Tez Says
Guest blogging at Curling Up By the Fire
Guest blogging at Centeno Books

Review: The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times

The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times
The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I binge-watched Call the Midwife during my maternity leave just over a year ago. I was fortunate in that I don’t have horror birth stories to tell so watching this show was actually enjoyable (yes, I’ve forgotten the pain fairly quickly!). When I found out that this serial is a based on a trilogy of books, of course, I couldn’t resist; I am a reader🙂

This book is a collection of memories of Jennifer Worth née Lee of the time she was training to become a midwife. In between these memories, she also commented on the state of antenatal care and midwifery with a bit of historical background. This is what was missing from the series though understandably, it probably won’t fit that well but I enjoyed these little tidbits and am very grateful for all those who paved the way so I got a terrific care in my turn.

Despite knowing most of the incidents in the book from the serial, I still enjoyed it very much. I still laughed at the funny moment (Chummy on her bike, Fred with his quails and pigs, etc), got teary at successful births, and heartbroken with the hard times some of these women faced. Most of all, I admire all these women for their courage and resilient in what seems to me impossible situations (I got it 100 times better than them!).

What caught me by surprise is the somewhat spiritual tone. It seems “Nonnatus House” or rather the Sisters of Nonnatus House affected the author quite a bit. Their faith, peace, and joy were puzzlement to her but slowly she began to see that surely it’s based on something bigger than what she can see.

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Review: Firewalker

Firewalker by Josephine Angelini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There was something about this trilogy that disturbed me and I wasn’t quite sure what it was… I started reading this book, Firewalker (book 2 of the Worldwalker trilogy), with some anxiety that I might end up hating it or myself. Now that I’ve finished it, I think it better than Trial By Fire (book 1) and I’ve figured out the reason why this trilogy has made me so anxious!

Firewalker picked up exactly from where Trial By fire left off. I was excited to see both Rowan and Lily in a different world/setting. But what I find I was actually excited about was to see Tristan again… With Rowan along though, this was going to be a rocky trip read. Despite all the angst, Josephine Angelini really has succeed in making this not to be as painful as I usually find love triangles and I actually finished reading this book & looking forward to the finale! If you are like me about love triangles (which is one reason my I could not get into Throne of Glass, ssshhhh), look out for my review on book 3, Witch’s Pyre and I’ll let you know whether you should or should not get into this trilogy.

At the end of my review for book 1, Trial By Fire, I mentioned that I was very curious about Lillian’s motivation. It is still Lily’s book (her perspective only) but we were given glimpses of what Lillian has gone through to make her what she is now. With the violence that was hinted at the beginning, I was terrified of what it’ll be when revealed as I can’t stand violence against women in books. But, it wasn’t at all what I thought and I’m utterly grateful for it. It was a horrible decision she’s had to make but I was too grateful to be proven wrong to feel the wrongness of it.

I am still just as annoyed with Lily though the path she pursued in the later part of this book is very interesting and I’m very curious what book 3 will bring. After the relief of Lillian’s secret, I was still rooting for not-the-right-guy AND I was absolutely gutted at the end of this book. I am hoping against all hope that it’ll turn out differently in the finale but I know my hope won’t come true. I’ll see you all on the other side!

Many thanks to Pan MacMillan Australia; I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil

Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil
Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are books and then there are BOOKS! I’m talking about those books that permeate your whole soul and haunt your dreams. Yes, I have bookish dreams. Don’t you?! Melina Marchetta’s latest is one of these. If I could, I would’ve read this book in a single sitting but work and kids… such stumbling blocks! But even if I had to stop reading, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

My first reaction when I found out about this book was jubilation that Melina Marchetta is releasing a new book followed by, oh, wait… what’s this?! It’s not YA! **gasps** Nevertheless, it’s a Marchetta’s, it’s must read. Still, I started with a tad of trepidation but no fear, as within the first few paragraphs, she’s got me in the palm of her hands.

This is a story of someone who has had to repress a part of his inheritance and its consequences. It’s a story of the migrants with brilliant opportunities but circumstances and prejudices conspired against them. It’s a story of a world where being different means being wrong. It’s a story of hatred and love and everything in between. It’s a story of the pursuit of truth and its liberation.

If you haven’t read any Marchetta’s and always thought YA isn’t your cup of tea, you must read this book. She created such a realistic fictional world with well developed characters that you cannot but think must be real. Her characters are always different (or diverse, whichever way you want to look at it) and being different always caused a ripple in a world where homogeneous = safety. Whilst the ending isn’t in anyway sad, I kind of felt tired… about the current state of world and why we cannot all live in mutual acceptance and peace! For the mystery/thrillers lover, I do believe you will love the twist at the end, I certainly didn’t pick it.

I really had no idea what to expect in this adult fiction from a worldwide-fame YA author but in my eyes, Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil is definitely a success. I am, more than ever, entrenched deeply as a fan because as someone who widely reads across the genres, Melina Marchetta has written books crossing many of my favourites; books which I’ve loved. Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil is a confronting novel of the broken world we have today, the pain of terror attacks, of hate and its consequences.

Postscript: This review is all about what this book makes me feel because it makes me feel so very much, my meter has overflowed. “Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil” isn’t just a title, it’s an exhortation. Let’s keep the conversation going…

My thankful heart goes to Melina Marchetta and Viking (Penguin Books Australia) for copy of book in exchange of honest review

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Review: Nirvana

Nirvana by J.R. Stewart
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Nirvana presents a curious post-apocalyptic world. The world is mostly devastated but there are domes of safety where life glitzes on. The virtual world is so advanced and real that it’s sometimes hard to distinguish from real life. Especially for Larissa Kenders, who in losing the love of her life, would prefer the virtual where he can still be found.

I thought it was a fascinating concept though I was mostly confused during the reading. That might be because Larissa is so confused herself and couldn’t get anything straight! In effect, I didn’t particularly enjoy the book. It was a fairly short book though so I reckon it was tough to fit in that much world building (it really was an interesting world).

Thanks to Blue Moon Publishers for copy eARC via NetGalley in exchange of honest review

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