Tag Archives: #australianauthor

Review: The Hope Flower by Joy Dettman

The Hope Flower by Joy Dettman

From the bestselling author of Mallawindy and the Woody Creek series comes a story of love and survival.

Lori Smyth-Owen isn’t your average teenager – as you’d expect from the only girl in a family of twelve. Or they were a family, until their father took his own life to escape his bed-bound wife, too obese to leave her room.

But for Lori and the remaining brothers, there is no escape from their volatile, mentally unstable mother. They raise themselves away from the gaze of the authorities, realising that though abandoned, they are now in charge. They can control everything, including their mother’s food intake.

In time, their mother emerges, after losing two-thirds of her body weight. But does she bring with her the seed of hope for a better future, or will all hell break loose?

Published 30 March 2021 |  Publisher: MacMillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$14.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  |  QBD

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

Joy Dettman is a well-known Aussie author but I’ve yet to read any of her books until this one. A few are on my TBR but I guess they’re not my particular comfort reads so they keep getting pushed back. As this was a review copy courtesy of the publisher, I pushed myself a little to reading this. I must admit that I wasn’t particularly keen on cover nor description but once I started, it was pretty easy to keep going. Noting my reading mood this year, the fact I managed to finish the book speaks well of its readability.

The Hope Flower is told from the perspective of a 15 year old girl, Lori Smyth-Owen. The only girl of 12 children and currently, she rules the roost. The house is a busy one (even as their mother does nothing all day) but routine is well regimented and chores shared all around. This time, Eddy came up with another scheme to get their mother to shape up. When she did shape up, however, the only to benefit was herself but she did go out in style.

While the story is actually quite sad and heartbreaking (how can your heart not hurt for these neglected children?!), I didn’t find the read depressing. Lori is one feisty character; full of gumption and yet, beneath all that hard rock is a soft spot where seedling of hope is still being kept alive. All these children are such amazing characters; resilient and resourceful! Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for any adult characters here.

I just found that The Hope Flower is not the first book by this author to feature Lori but I don’t think I can go back to read the other one, Henry’s Daughter. I can’t tell you if you’d miss anything if you read this without reading the earlier one because this truly reads like a stand-alone for me. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed reading The Hope Flower as it has definitely exceeded any expectations I had for it.

My thanks to MacMillan Australia for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Joy Dettman sees herself as a wife, mother and grandmother, who steals time from her family to satisfy her obsessive need to write.

Joy was not always a wife, mother and grandmother. She can recall her early obsession with newspaper cartoons. They were her picture books. A newspaper shoutline allowed her to break the code of reading prior to entering a school room, thus addicting her for life to the printed word.

Joy’s early draft of Woody Creek, single spaced, margin to margin, messy, was typed on the family room table, where in 1986-7, she wrote Mallawindy. Her number one fan, her little sister, read it, and for the next ten years, publication became their joint obsession.

In 1997, she received a phone call from Pan Macmillan. Mallawindy was accepted for publication and by ’98 Joy and her number one fan held that book in their hands.

Blog Tour: Footprints on the Moon by Lorraine Marwood

Footprints on the Moon by Lorraine Marwood

Publisher: University of Queensland Press
Publication Date: 2 February 2021
Australian RRP: $16.99

Humans are about to leave footprints on the moon, but what sort of mark can one girl make here on earth?

It’s 1969 and life is changing fast. Sharnie Burley is starting high school and finding it tough to make new friends. As the world waits to see if humans will land on the moon, the Vietnam War rages overseas. While her little cousin, Lewis, makes pretend moon boots, young men are being called up to fight, sometimes without having any choice in the matter. Sometimes without ever coming home.

Dad thinks serving your country in a war is honourable, but when Sharnie’s older sister, Cas, meets a returned soldier and starts getting involved in anti-war protests, a rift in their family begins to show. Sharnie would usually turn to her grandma for support, but lately Gran’s been forgetting things.

Can she find her own way in this brave new world?

Buy at:  booktopia  |  Dymocks  | A&R  | QBD

My Blurb (5/5 stars)

How can we look up

and touch the moon,

when we don’t know how

to look across to our neighbours

to listen and take note

of their opinions?

I had no idea that this book was in verse until I crack open to the first page. And I’m always surprised by just how much an author can get across with so little words. Well, if you’ve been reading my review, you know I cry a lot – that’s usually an indication of how much a book got to me. Did I cry in this one? Gosh, yes, I found it hard to hold my tears at bay for the last 20 pages. Oh, um, my 11 yo also predicted that I’d cry lol

Footprints on the Moon is set in 1969, in an Australian town. Sharnie Burley is finding that life is changing and moving in an unknown direction. As she struggles to find her own direction for life, she turns to her grandmother for advice. And later on, she finds wisdom in her sister and a friend. Meanwhile, the world at large did not stop. Apollo 11 is on its way to the moon and the Vietnam War is dividing friends & families.

A beautiful coming-of-age story where we not only see the protagonist finding her feet but also her unique voice. The author was woven world’s events quite seamlessly into the lives of these characters and while they are not a direct participants, that did not stop them from leaving their own marks in the world. A great discussion starter to get the young ones involved in current affairs and/or how to voice ones opinions.

Thanks to University of Queensland Press for copy of book in exchange of honest review. And thanks, AusYABloggers for organising the tour.

Find all the other stops by following the Tour Schedule 

About the author

Lorraine Marwood was born and raised in rural Victoria and has lived for most of her married life on a dairy farm with her husband and their six children. Lorraine is an award-winning poet who has been widely published in literary magazines across Australia, as well as magazines in the UK, USA, New Zealand and Canada. She has also published several children’s novels and collections of poetry.

 

Find Lorraine on: goodreads  |  website  | facebook  |  twitter  | instagram

Blog Tour: Girl of the Southern Sea by Michelle Kadarusman

Girl of the Southern Sea by Michelle Kadarusman

Publisher: University of Queensland Press
Publication Date: 2 February 2021
Australian RRP: $24.99

A gifted student, Nia longs to attend high school so she can follow her dream and become a writer. She has notebooks filled with stories she’s created about the mythological Dewi Kadita, Princess of the Southern Sea. But her family has barely enough money for food, let alone an education, so Nia’s days are spent running their food cart and raising her younger brother.

Following a miraculous escape from a bus accident, Nia is gifted with good-luck magic. Or at least that’s what everyone’s saying. Soon their family business is booming and there might even be enough money to return to school. But how long can her good luck last?

When a secret promise threatens everything she’s hoped for, Nia must find a way to break the mould and write her own future.

Buy at:  booktopia  |  Dymocks  | A&R  | QBD

My Blurb (4/5 stars)

A beautiful eye-catching cover but the thing that the book called to me about is its setting. It is set in Jakarta (capital of Indonesia) which was where I was born. I also spent my first 15 years there so I am mostly excited in being able to reminisce about my childhood and maybe also to be able to share with my own children, what it was like.

I am embarrassed to admit that I’m not familiar with this particular mythology of Dewi Kadita. It is possible though that I’ve just forgotten a lot of the stories as I have spent more years living in Australia than Indonesia. However, the way these stories are told in the book sound just like they would be told except, of course, in a different language.

Nia is certainly a strong character and she grew to be even stronger, at the end. Her experiences are not to be envied but luckily, she has her own guardian angels. She is definitely a character I can empathise with, even when her naivety nearly brings her to ruins. Her passion for writing and education, her love for her brother, and her diligence are admirable and truly aspiring.

Not all her friends are like Nia, of course. In fact, all her best friend wanted is to buy a new mobile phone and that’s what she’s saving for. She may sound rather shallow from this one sentence but do not underestimate her resourcefulness! Nia’s father is a drunkard and basically useless but there is another older male character for which I’m still scratching my head over as I just don’t understand the different pictures portrayed of him. I’d really like him to be better developed.

My childhood is not at all like Nia’s, the protagonist of this novel, as I’ve been so very blessed in life but I have seen with my own eyes those slums she lives in. I’ve worn the red & white uniform her brother wears to school. I’ve bought & eaten my share of fried bananas and martabak (I’ve introduced my boys to this last delicious dessert and now they’d fight me for the last piece!). To me, this novel is a trip through memory lanes and such a wonderful journey as I read this all in a single sitting. I loved it but unfortunately, due to the serious note of this novel, I’ve not been able to get the boys interested. Maybe another time…

Girl of the Southern Sea is a delightful coming-of-age story of a young girl chasing after her dreams. It is a novel which helps you see a little bit of how the other half of the world live and one that encourages all to never never give up.

Thanks to University of Queensland Press for copy of book in exchange of honest review. And thanks, AusYABloggers for organising the tour.

Find all the other stops by following the Tour Schedule 

About the author

Michelle Kadarusman is an Australian-Indonesian children’s author. She grew up in Melbourne and has lived many years throughout Indonesia, and in Canada. Her novels have been nominated for various awards, including the Canadian Governor General’s Literary Awards and the Malka Penn Award for Human Rights in Children’s Literature. They have also earned numerous honours, including USBBY Outstanding International Book, two Junior Library Guild Selections, and a nomination for the Ontario Library Association Silver Birch Fiction Award.

Find Michelle on: goodreads  |  facebook  |  twitter  | instagram

Blog Tour: Indigo Owl by Charline Archbold

 

Indigo Owl by Charlie Archbold

Publisher: Wakefield Press
Publication Date: 1 September 2020
Australian RRP: $24.99

After Earth was destroyed by climate change and overpopulation, private corporations colonised new planets. On one such planet, Galbraith,the fertility of its citizens is tightly controlled. But at what cost?

When Scarlet Bergen leaves her childhood home to be trained at the Arcadia Institute, harnessing her psychic Solitaire talents, it feels like the beginning of her future. But on the Institute steps, her father whispers a life-changing secret about the past. Her mother, a geneticist who disappeared when Scarlet was ten, had enemies …

Scarlet vows to discover the truth about her mother – and is joined in her mission by fellow cadets with their own family secrets and special talents: tech-savvy Rumi, a tenacious truth-hunter, and Dylan, the aloof classmate who can literally read her mind.

Together, they’ll uncover a planet-wide conspiracy … and discover that there’s little the Galbraith Executives won’t do to get what they want.

Buy at:  booktopia  |  dymocks  | A&R  | Wakefield Press

My Blurb (4/5 stars)

Somehow, I have gotten into the habit of not reading the book blurb / description / synopsis before I started reading. I would have read it some time before I decided to get my hands on the book so at one point in time, I wanted to read it, so I’d just jumped in. Therefore, most times I’ve no idea what I got myself in for. And such is the case with Indigo Owl because I didn’t realise that it was set in a different planet and for a while, I was really confused! So that’s the first thing you should know… This book is set on a completely different and very very cold planet called Galbraith.

There are 3 perspectives but Scarlet’s the primary one while Rumi’s & Dylan’s felt like they revolve around her. I guess this is really Scarlet’s story but we do need Rumi’s & Dylan’s help to know what’s happening around Scarlet. This makes me feel that Scarlet is very focused on the one thing (her mother) and so quite blind in her peripheral vision. She could be likeable but I actually prefer Rumi with all her “unbalanced” angle. I must admit though that at the end, they both improved so much! Scarlet could be a good friend but again, I don’t feel that friendship any particularly well with anyone. And I also find the romance a little bit lacklustre.

Indigo Owl was a very easy read with a truly fascinating setting with a sort of low key creepy vibe in the way of The Handmaid’s Tale. With a fast pace and an engaging mystery, it is a captivating read.

Thanks to Wakefield Press for copy of book in exchange of honest review. And thanks, AusYABloggers for organising the tour.

Find all the other stops by following the Tour Schedule 

About the author

Charlie has worked as a primary years educator for many years. She has a Master of Education Degree in Studies of Asia and has spent time teaching in the UK, Australia, and Indonesia. In addition to teaching she has a passion for creative writing. Her new young adult novel is Indigo Owl.

Charlie’s debut young adult novel, Mallee Boys, was the recipient of the 2016 Adelaide Literary Festival Unpublished Manuscript Award and was a 2018 Children’s Book Council of Australia Honour book. Her middle grade manuscript, Red Bottomed Boat, was shortlisted for the 2020 Text Prize.

Find Charlie on: goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  | instagram

Review: Pinkers by Alison Croggon & Daniel Keene

Pinkers (Newport City #2) by Alison Croggon & Daniel Keene

The revolution has begun. But where does it end?

The banns are in lockdown, making it all but impossible for Dez, Bo and their friends to resist the authoritarianism of Newport City. Bo believes that the mysterious power of the water is the key to winning their struggle, but Dez is deeply troubled about his increasing obsession.

Meanwhile up-and-coming soap star Erin Saba is in trouble. In Newport City, there’s nowhere to hide. Especially if you’re Erin Saba…

Published 15 August 2020 |  Publisher: Newport Street Books  |  RRP: AUD$1199 (ebook)

Buy it at: A&R  |  Amazon AU

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

In the first book of Newport City series, Fleshers, we see certain young people rising up against injustices suffered by their people. In this exciting sequel, Pinkers, we read of the immediate aftermath of a particular action followed by escalation of conflicts between the fleshers and pinkers. If you don’t know what these terms mean, I won’t spoil you but direct you to read Fleshers instead 😉

Following the first book, we have alternating perspectives between Dez and Bo (flesher siblings) but we also have additional perspective, Erin Saba (pinker). I thought this last perspective was a very interesting addition as we have, to date, not heard of a pinker’s perspective even as we know not all are bad. As Dez, Bo, their mother and friends are preparing to fight for a chance at a better life, Erin felt her life was not as it should be. As it happened, life turns out to be quite different for Erin when she found herself amongst the fleshers.

Dez has an obsessive personality but a very big & kind heart. Bo has a goal in mind and is focused on getting there. Erin was just hopeless, really, but let’s just say that she learns a LOT by the end. They may all see the world differently but they also all see the potential for it to be better; they are seeking to bridge differences. Pinkers is an exciting and thoroughly enjoyable sequel and as I think that not everything is tidied up yet, I have hope for another instalment.

My thanks to the authors for providing me with an ecopy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Alison Croggon is an award-winning novelist, poet, theatre writer, critic and editor who lives in Melbourne, Australia. She works in many genres and her books and poems have been published to acclaim nationally and internationally. She is arts editor for The Saturday Paper and co-editor of the performance criticism website Witness.

Find Alison on:  goodreads  |  website  |  facebook  |  twitter

Daniel Keene has written for the theatre since 1979. He has written over 70 plays, both short works and full length.

Find Daniel on:  goodreads  |  website

Review: A Dance with Fate by Juliet Marillier

A Dance With Fate (Warrior Bards #2) by Juliet Marillier

An accident. A forfeit of freedom. A descent into danger.

Liobhan, the young warrior and bard, has lost her brother to the Otherworld. Even more determined to gain a place as an elite fighter, she returns to Swan Island to continue her training. But Liobhan is devastated when her comrade Dau is injured and loses his sight in their final display bout. Blamed by Dau’s family for the accident, she agrees to go to his home, Oakhill, as a bond servant for one year.

But Oakhill is a place of dark secrets. The menacing and enigmatic Crow Folk still threaten both worlds and while Brocc battles them in the Otherworld, Dau must battle his own demon – despair.

When Liobhan and Dau begin to expose the evil at the core of Oakhill, they place themselves in mortal danger. For their enemy wields great power and will stop at nothing to get his way. It will take all the skills of a Swan Island warrior and a touch of the uncanny to give them any hope of survival . . .

Published 28 July 2020 |  Publisher: MacMillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s

My Blurb (4.5 / 5 stars)

I feel like I’ve waited too long to get back into this world and yet, it was less than a year ago (just!). I re-read The Harp of Kings before I read this just because I wanted my stay in this world to be longer. I loved that Liobhan and Dau grew so much in the first book and was keen to find out where their next journey will take them to.

In The Harp of Kings, we found out that Dau’s childhood was a terribly scary time that nearly drove him to his death. In A Dance With Fate, we see Dau facing his fears and grew to become stronger and wiser but not alone. As always, his loyal friend, Liobhan, is there with him and for him.

A twist of fate saw Dau blinded and his future bleak. And yet that same twist of fate brought Liobhan to be with him to face his blackest fear. Liobhan’s keen sense of justice and deep friendship for Dau cannot see her standing by when she can see Dau will be alone and friendless where he’s going. Yet, at the same time, she would be brought lowest but because who and what she is, there are many who are pulled to her to render aid and support.

I love the deepening friendship between Dau & Liobhan in this book. However, this is Dau’s story more than anything and I loved it even more as he’s developed into such a magnificent man. Brocc is still around and there were a smattering of his POVs in this book. While I find those to be a bit of an annoyance (they broke the main storyline of this book), I do understand that his arc is an overall one for the trilogy and I hope the next book will see him finding what he is looking for.

As always, such a comfort to read Marillier’s and I never wanted to leave. In fact, the book is still sitting on my soon-to-read TBR because I’m contemplating a re-read already. Truly while she does not spare her characters from pain, they grow so beautifully that it’s a comforting to know that whatever it is you’re going through, you’ll be stronger at the end. Her words of wisdom is a balm in this (our) bleak time.

My thanks to MacMillan Australia for having me on this tour and  paperback copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Juliet Marillier was born in 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. 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. She is a member of the druid order OBOD (the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.)

Find Juliet on:  goodreads  |  website  |  facebook

Blog Tour: The Year the Maps Changed by Danielle Binks

 

The Year the Maps Changed by Danielle Binks

Publisher: Hachette Australia
Publication Date: 28 April 2019
Australian RRP: $17.99

I was eleven when everything started and twelve by the end. But that’s another way maps lie, because it felt like the distance travelled was a whole lot further than that. 

 Sorrento, Victoria – 1999 

Fred’s family is a mess. Fred’s mother died when she was six and she’s been raised by her Pop and adoptive father, Luca, ever since. But now Pop is at the Rye Rehabilitation Centre recovering from a fall; Luca’s girlfriend, Anika, has moved in; and Fred’s just found out that Anika and Luca are having a baby of their own. More and more it feels like a land-grab for family and Fred is the one being left off the map.

But even as the world feels like it’s spinning out of control, a crisis from the other side of it comes crashing in. When 400 Kosovar-Albanian refugees arrive in the middle of the night to be housed at one of Australia’s ‘safe havens’ on an isolated headland not far from Sorrento, their fate becomes intertwined with the lives of Fred and her family, as she navigates one extraordinary year that will change them all.

Buy at:  booktopia  |  dymocks  | QBD  | Hachette Australia

My Blurb (5/5 stars)

11 year old Winifred Owen-Ricci felt her world shifting once again. There was that big one when her mother died but this year, her 11th year, she felt her world to lose its smoothness and little bumps and lumps are emerging. Just as she has to adjust herself to her father’s new partner and her son moving in, a group of Kosovar-Albanian refugees were brought in to a ‘safe haven’ not far from her town. As her life touches those of the refugees’ so begin some little ripples of change but what can an 11 year old girl do to help?

The Year the Maps Changed was such an easy and engaging book to read. I was quickly drawn into Winnie’s (aka Fred’s or Freddo’s) world and fell in love… with her parents. It is heartwarming to see a good parental models in MG fiction though not to say that they are perfect but they try and mostly, they do good. The novel primarily is about a child’s life in a small town as she struggles to fit in into her new blended family.

The novel also dealt with a contemporary issues of refugees. And while it refers specifically to the Kosovar-Albanian ones who came to Australia in 1999, the same issue and concern still exist today in regard to refugees. Even as Winnie is confused about her spot in the family, she and her friends are also curious about the refugees and the reason for the war. Her sympathy engaged, she dared to put out a helping hand.

I got my 10 year old boy to read this too but unfortunately, it failed to engage him. He does not think himself as a reader and when he does read, he prefers books with the typical boy humour (a very narrow preference). He thinks it is boring because it’s just about everyday life where nothing really happens. He has been very fortunate in having grown up in a rather traditional family structure, I think, that he lacks the appreciation how much a struggle ‘everyday life’ could be when your family structure & dynamics change. From my perspective (I grew up with older half siblings), this novel has dealt with this issue sensitively and provided a lovely broad perspective of just how it could all work.

Life, as we all know, is never a smooth ride. Just as you think to switch the cruise control on, there’s a turn or a bump coming up and you’ll have to navigate manually. In The Year the Maps Changed, Winnie’s world (aka map) was changing and expanding with additional turns, cracks, and bumps. Changes come in all forms and many different directions; from her life’s centre (her family) to her friends to worldwide concerns. She is learning to negotiate life inside out, growing and expanding herself to adjust to her new world. Beautifully set by Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, The Year the Maps Changed is a new & gorgeous landmark in all readers’ landscapes or it should be!

Thanks to Date a Book, Hachette Australia, & Hachette New Zealand for copy of book in exchange of honest review. And thanks, AusYABloggers for organising the tour.

Find all the other stops by following the Tour Schedule 

About the author

Danielle Binks is a Melbourne-based writer, reviewer, agent, book blogger and Youth Literature Advocate. In 2017, she edited and contributed to Begin, End, Begin, an anthology of new Australian young adult writing inspired by the #LoveOzYA movement, which won the ABIA Book of the Year for Older Children (Ages 13+) and was shortlisted in the 2018 Gold Inky Awards. The Year the Maps Changed is Danielle’s debut middle-grade novel coming out with Hachette Australia in 2020.

Find Danielle on: goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  | instagram

Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry (Aaron Falk #1) by Jane Harper

WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY?

It hasn’t rained in Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the farming community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are discovered shot to death on their property. Everyone assumes Luke Hadler committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son.

Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to his hometown for the funerals and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and his childhood friend Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth…

Published 28 February 2017 |  Publisher: Pan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$16.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R |  QBD  | Abbey’s

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

Red herrings right for the very beginning! They coloured the characters’ perspectives and therefore, the readers’. I absolutely could not pick out who until it all became very obvious. The Dry is an immersive crime novel set in outback Australia. The drought was killing off the environment, animals, and businesses but was it such that it factors in this horrific murder-suicide?

Aaron Falk, a Federal Agent, ran away from this town 20 years ago under a cloud of suspicion from the death of a friend. He has returned for the funeral of another friend and found himself agreeing to “look into” things. However, the past will not leave him be… Is this present case connected to the past?

The novel is told from Falk’s perspective in the present but in between, there are paragraphs (in italics) where the past intrudes whether it be Falk’s perspective or others. As always, the past never seems to be as you remember it to be and always refused to be left behind.

What really got to me in this novel is Falk’s realisation of just what ‘drought’ really means;

“His own naivety taunted him like a flicker of madness. How could he have imagined fresh water still ran by these farms as animals lay dead in the paddocks? How could he nod dumbly as the word drought was thrown around, and never realise this river ran dry?”

I bought this paperback copy for my own reading pleasure

About the author

Jane Harper is the international bestselling author of The Dry, Force of Nature and The Lost Man. Jane is a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller, and has won numerous top awards including the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year, the Australian Indie Awards Book of the Year, the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel, and the British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year. Her books are published in more than 36 territories worldwide, with The Dry in production as a major motion picture starring Eric Bana. Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK, and now lives in Melbourne.

Find Jane on:  goodreads  |   twitter  |  facebook  |  instagram  | website

Blog Tour: The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier -a Review + GIVEAWAY

The Harp of Kings (Warrior Bards #1) by Juliet Marillier

Bard. Warrior. Rebel. 

Eighteen-year-old Liobhan is a powerful singer and an expert whistle player. Her brother has a voice to melt the hardest heart and is a rare talent on the harp. But Liobhan’s burning ambition is to join the elite warrior band on Swan Island. While she and her brother are competing for places in this band, they are asked to go undercover as travelling minstrels. For Swan Island trains both warriors and spies.

Their mission is to find and retrieve a precious harp, an ancient symbol of kingship. If the harp is not played at the upcoming coronation, the heir will not be accepted and the kingdom will be thrown into turmoil. Faced with plotting courtiers, secretive druids, an insightful storyteller and a boorish Crown Prince, Liobhan soon realises an Otherworld power may be meddling in the affairs of the realm. When ambition clashes with conscience, Liobhan must make a bold decision – and the consequences may break her heart.

Published 27 August 2019 |  Publisher: MacMillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

My Blurb (4.5 / 5 stars)

All I knew was that it’s a new book by Juliet Marillier. I. Must. Read. It. I didn’t really bother finding out what the book was about so you can just imagine my pleasure to find out when I started reading that it’s set in the same universe as that of Blackthorn & Grimm’s because I really loved that trilogy.

The opening scene was exciting with a fight in the rain and being told from the perspective of Liobhan, it was easy to fall into the story & liking her. When perspective changed (there are 2 others, Brocc & Dau), I wasn’t quite sure whether I was keen on the other 2 povs so it became a bit slow because I was reluctant to read these 2 but impatient to get on onto the next Liobhan’s chapters. I think you all know this struggle with multiple povs. You find a favourite and tend to stick with them. There are some novels that I just can’t get used to multiple povs but this isn’t one of them.

Even as I struggle with uncertainties with multiple characters, the tale itself progresses rather quickly and in the end, it was a rather fast read because I found that I could barely put it down. I enjoyed the dynamics between these 3 characters, Liobhan being the centre piece but I love how close the siblings are (Liobhan & Brocc) and the development of Dau’s character and therefore, his relationship with Liobhan.

The Harp of Kings is really a comfort read for me so I’ve really enjoyed it. Points taken off only because I didn’t feel the pull right from the beginning and one particular incident in the novel that I just didn’t click with. Otherwise, I love this Otherwordly tale.

I adore these Celtic infused stories by Marillier. I love how she combines my love for historical fantasy and mystery so this was a perfect read for me. If you loved Marillier’s recent works, you’ll enjoy this read too. This new series, Warrior Bards, promises to be one full of music, many stories, and intriguing mysteries.

My thanks to MacMillan Australia for having me on this tour and  paperback copy of book in exchange of honest review

GIVEAWAY

Courtesy of Macmillan Australia, I’ve got 1 paperback copy of The Harp of Kings to giveaway!

To enter, simple leave a comment with most recent historical fantasy book you have read (or are currently reading) and include a random sentence/short paragraph from it. I will draw the winner on the evening of Monday, 9th September 2019. You may also wish to enter via Insta and/or Twitter and/or Facebook as well as commenting on this post however there is only 1 copy up for grabs.

Please note this giveaway is limited to ANZ residents only.

About the author

Juliet Marillier was born in 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. 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. She is a member of the druid order OBOD (the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.)

Find Juliet on:  goodreads  |  website  |  facebook

Review: The Barrier by Shankari Chandran

The Barrier by Shankari Chandran

Twenty years ago an Ebola epidemic brought the world to the edge of oblivion.

The West won the war, the East was isolated behind a wall, and a vaccine against Ebola was developed. Peace prevailed.

Now Agent Noah Williams is being sent over the barrier to investigate a rogue scientist who risks releasing another plague. But why would a once-respected academic threaten the enforced vaccination program that ensures humans are no longer an endangered species?

Hunting for answers amid shootouts, espionage and murder, Noah will have to confront a fundamental question:

In the fight for survival, can our humanity survive too?

My Blurb (3 stars)

I do so want to support all Aussie authors and I think that was primarily my reason in picking this book up. The cover is attractive enough and it’s a dystopian thriller so that was enough reasoning for me to read it. I enjoyed most of it but I just didn’t realise that there was a lot of medical / biology factor in this book that just went over my head. I could never make sense of biology at school so this stuff was really beyond me, unfortunately, and took away what could be a truly exciting book.

The prologue was exciting and horrifying all at once. It was a very promising beginning but as this is a whole new post-apocalyptic world, it slowed right down with the required world building. It’s a very scary world when the world as we know it ended due to an epidemic. Certain powers then rose and stayed in control over the whole world (albeit behind the scene) after discovering the cure.

In this new world, religion and/or faith is prohibited and was unknowingly suppressed by the world power. However, there have been some terminal illness which appears to be related to faith. Or is it?

I loved the characterisation; all the broken, flawed, and conflicted characters. I loved this post-apocalyptic world which for me as a Christian (I have faith!) is very scary. While the world is seen to be united in their secular views but there was actually a lot of conflict under the surface. Is it better to have a world without any faith?

The only disappointment I have is really my fault or rather my lack of scientific mind. I just can’t get myself around the science stuff and got really bogged down so I just skimmed quite a bit of the book and found that I probably missed quite a bit of the plot. That ending though… wow, great plot & twist!

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Shankari Chandran was raised in Canberra, Australia. She spent a decade in London, working as a lawyer in the social justice field. She eventually returned home to Australia, where she now lives with her husband, four children and their cavoodle puppy.

The Barrier is her second novel. Her first novel, The Song of the Sun Godexplores the recent history of Sri Lanka. She is currently working on her third book, also set there.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  | facebook