Tag Archives: #aww2016

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

juliet-marillier

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.

Q:

“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 (Review & Giveaway): Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

About the book

Words in Deep Blue

Second-hand bookshops are full of mysteries

This is a love story.

It’s the story of Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets.

It’s the story of Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie. They were best friends once, before Rachel moved to the sea. 

Now, she’s back, working at the bookstore, grieving for her brother Cal and looking for the future in the books people love, and the words they leave behind.

Sometimes you need the poets

My Blurb

Life is the big scheme; death is the little one at the end

I loved visiting second-hand bookshops though these days I don’t actually know whether there is one in my neighbourhood. Nowadays, I buy second-hand books from Vinnies so they don’t usually have that “old” feels to them. And to be honest, I hate seeing things underlined or highlighted in books though I do like the little penciled (not penned) notes. I haven’t, however, found anything that meaningful in my books or maybe I just haven’t the imagination to find meaning in old bus/train tickets. The idea, however, is utterly charming.

The thing about the Letter Library at Howling Books is that you leave actual letters / notes to people who mean something to you. Rachel Sweetie has never been able to grasp the point of this exercise for what use is words? They’re just words. They’re there but they don’t DO anything in the scheme of life. She’s a scientist and she believes in the moon and the tides. Henry Jones, on the other hand, is a poet. He loves words. He believes in the power of words. And yet, they are the best of friends until… they weren’t. Years later, Rachel returned; stricken by grief, angry, and numb. 10 years of friendship, however, cannot be ignored.

I loved Rachel. Her strength impressed me from the very beginning; she’s been struck down by a grief so profound and yet, life still flickered inside of her. It was amazing to see that fire being stoke back to life and seeing her grasp life once again. Henry, on the other hand, didn’t quite impress me. I am fascinated by his family and, most especially, his family home! I wasn’t sure though I could like a real life Henry. His one redeeming fact is that he’s a reader and that he’s really a terrific friend. All the secondary characters though were brilliantly alive. I love the diverse cast of characters: Lola & Hiroko with their music, George (Henry’s sister) & Martin and his mums, etc.

Words in Deep Blue is a book about books (& words), of love and grief, of friendship and finding one’s feet. It is poignant and funny at the same time. It is wonderful collection of words strung into a beautiful story; one I’d highly recommend as it will delight many hearts.

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

About the author

Cath Crowley is a young adult author published in Australia and internationally. She is the author of The Gracie Faltrain trilogy, Chasing Charlie Duskin, and Graffiti Moon. In 2011, Graffiti Moon won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction, the Ethel Turner Award for Young People’s Literature, and was named an honour book in the Children’s Book Council, Book of the Year. Cath writes and teaches in Melbourne.

Find Cath on: goodreads  |  website  |  tumblr  |  twitter

Giveaway (AU only)

I have 1 brand new copy of this book to giveaway but Australian address only (sorry, peeps, can’t afford overseas shipping :/). To enter, simply leave me a comment on what book would you leave your letter in and why OR who would you leave a letter to at the Letter Library.

I will contact the winner on Saturday, 1 October for his/her postal details.

Review: The Blood in the Beginning

the blood in the beginning
The Blood in the Beginning by Kim Falconer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: Uncorrected proof courtesy of publisher

The Blood in the Beginning sounds so appealing and could fit right in my comfort reading zone. A paranormal/urban fantasy/dystopian novel with a “kickass nightclub bouncer” female main character, this is a potential for a pick-me-up feisty fabulous read but whilst I enjoyed the read, it fell short of my expectation.

Ava Sykes is not actually ‘Ava Sykes’ and she has a blood disorder so rare, she has to fly under the radar. Unfortunately, there are people (& others!) sniffing around her and will not leave her alone. On the other hand, this could be an opportunity she cannot miss in finding out the truth about herself and who she really is. But will the truth set her free?

Her secret reminds me so much of a certain movie trilogy (view spoiler) though of course, there are differences. I’ve really enjoyed the world-building and without giving too much spoilers, I wish to see a lot more of the ‘under world’. Unfortunately, I didn’t really feel any sparks between Ava and her male counterpart(s). She’s one confused little lady and this, I think, also affects any ‘sparks’ she may/may not have for anyone. I wanted more from this part of the book.

As I read an Uncorrected Proof, I did find that it needs some tidying up so I do hope the final copy will proof to be a better read. The book ended, however, with a promising note of more exciting things to come so I will definitely give book 2 a chance.

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

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Blog Tour: When Michael Met Mina by Randa Abdel-Fattah

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Randa Abdel-Fattah was born in Sydney in 1979. She is a Muslim of Palestinian and Egyptian heritage. She grew up in Melbourne and attended a Catholic primary school and Islamic secondary college. Randa has worked as a lawyer, human rights advocate and community volunteer with different human rights and migrant and refugee resource organisations. Randa has used her opinion editorials in newspapers and TV and radio media appearances as a medium for expressing her views about racism, multiculturalism, human rights, the occupation of Palestine and asylum seekers. She is a regular guest at schools around Australia addressing students about her books and the social justice issues they raise. Randa has also been a guest at international writer’s festivals. She recently completed her PhD in the Department of Sociology at Macquarie University, researching Islamophobia, racism and everyday multiculturalism in Australia. Randa lives in Sydney with her husband and three children. She has just released her latest novel, When Michael Met Mina, which was inspired by her PhD fieldwork examining issues of race in Australia.

Find Randa on: goodreads  |  website  |  facebook  |  twitter

Q&A with Randa

Boat Refugees!  What a contentious issue! What kind of research was involved in writing When Michael Met Mina?

I based my book on my own fieldwork (I wrote it while researching Islamophobia, racism and everyday multiculturalism in Australia as part of a PhD in Sociology) my own work with refugees, stories from friends, and information from refugee advocates.

If you conduct any interviews of boat refugees, could you please share one particular story that touched you?

I spoke to a refugee advocate who told me about a young man who turned 18 while he was still studying (he was in community detention). The Department of Immigration told him he had to leave school. They also moved him from youth accommodation to a boarding house where the other residents were older men with alcohol and drug-related problems. The school principal encouraged the boy to remain in school even though Immigration was no longer funding his education. The principal did not realise how short of money he was and that he was not paying his train fares to come to school (in community detention people get a very small allowance). He was caught on the train without a ticket and sent back to Villawood.

Then there was this story: a Palestinian – Iraqi family who came by boat. The advocate helped prevent the Immigration Department from forcing the oldest daughter to leave school (policy once they turn 18 regardless of where they are in their studies).

What particular policies (proposed or otherwise) in Australian politics which are of ‘Aussie Values’ that you think are misconceptions?  What are these misconceptions and what are the facts?

There are misconceptions and there is the racism that structures and inspires a certain way of thinking and emotional posture in relation to multiculturalism, refugees and non-Anglo Australia. First and foremost, the idea of policing ‘our borders’ and deciding who we will allow to come in etc is based on a fundamental erasure of indigenous sovereignty. It is denied. It is taken for granted that all of us–the White dominant majority and ‘everybody  else’– have the right to police Australia’s borders because of a racist presumption of White sovereignty over indigenous sovereignty. Everything else stems from that. As for misconceptions, I don’t even know if that is the right word. There are straightforward facts available to anybody willing to do a Google search regarding all the economic claims around refugees (i.e. they take our jobs/they get more welfare etc). So I’d call it wilful ignorance. Then there are the claims that there is a global ‘queue’, that people get on boats and risk their lives to take advantage of ‘our way of life’, that refugees have values that ‘threaten our values’, that they would set themselves on fire in order to emotionally blackmail us and so on. I don’t see these as misconceptions. There is something nasty and racist and dark at work here which has taken shape over years of strong political and media work to demonise refugees.

Could you provide some practical advices to a teen / young adult on how to influence above change in policies?

Oh yes definitely! Politicians aren’t stupid. If our border policies were unpopular and didn’t win votes, they’d be the first in line to shut down detention centres.  So politicians need to know that their policies are not supported. That means lobbying your local MP, being part of campaigns that counter the dangerous narratives that get widely disseminated. Use as many platforms as possible: social media, vlogs, the arts, op eds, music, story-telling.

Randa’s latest book

when michael met mina

When Michael Met Mina

Before Mina, my life was like a completed jigsaw puzzle but Mina has pushed the puzzle onto the floor. I have to start all over again, figuring out where the pieces go.

When Michael meets Mina, they are at a rally for refugees – standing on opposite sides.

Mina fled Afghanistan with her mother via a refugee camp, a leaky boat and a detention centre.

Michael’s parents have founded a new political party called Aussie Values.

They want to stop the boats. 
Mina wants to stop the hate.

When Mina wins a scholarship to Michael’s private school, their lives crash together blindingly.

A novel for anyone who wants to fight for love, and against injustice.

My Blurb

Do you ever stop being a refugee? Even if at some point in your life the place of refuge becomes home?

Wow! was my first thought when I saw the description for this book. Refugees, especially boat refugees, caused such furore in Australian politics and everybody has an opinion. It’s good that everyone has thoughts about this but sometimes, they need to look a little bit harder, deeper, and further! I’m actually looking at this book with a little trepidation because being a stereotypical Asian, I don’t like confrontation (avoid it like that plague!) even when it’s in books.

Presenting views from different people (pros and cons and everything in between), When Michael Met Mina demands the readers to think also for themselves. What is the right thing to do? And one thing that struck me from Q&A above is Randa’s comment on wilful ignorance ; this phrase has been stuck in my head for a month now because I thought it’s something that’s wrong but is remedial if only you’d take the steps and of course, also because I’m guilty (in some aspects).  Do not live with your head in the sand and parrot others (even those you look up to), do your own research and speak your own unique thoughts.

I find myself infuriated on one page, teary on another, and smiling on the next one. Written in the perspectives of teenagers from both ‘sides of the fence’, When Michael Met Mina seeks to inform and to encourage the young to form their own views based on genuine hard facts. An absolute gem of a read with real life issues & implications, this book speaks not only to your heart but also to your mind.

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

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Review: Sea Hearts

sea heartsSea Hearts by Margo Lanagan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: paperback copy won from a giveaway

Tender Morsel absolutely crushed me! It was such a huge life lesson and it hurt… really bad! I approached Sea Hearts with extreme caution because I’m still feel the crushing pain from Tender Morsel. Thankfully, or is it rather, unfortunately, Sea Hearts was not as sharp as Tender Morsel… at least, not to me personally.

Whilst I knew this novel was an expanded work of the short story, Sea-Hearts (with the dash), I never actually read that story so this was all new to me. The story revolves around Rollrock Island and the selkies but really, whilst the selkies may be the main interest for most fantasy loves in reading this, they’re really not the main story. It is a tool employed ingeniously by the witch, and the author, in teaching Rollrock residents, and the reader, an important lesson: Don’t Mess with the Witch!! respect for all despite how different they are.

It wasn’t preachy in any way especially since there were multiple of perspectives from different times and sides. The main lesson was easily learnt but there were multiple layers of dimensions to it. I am torn between admirations for the witch’s resourcefulness and nauseated by her vengefulness. In any case, she’s taken it up on herself to teach the community a lesson which will be remembered for a long long time. This was a dark tale but well worth the read.

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Review: Like I Can Love

Like I can Love

Like I Can Love by Kim Lock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

Like I Can Love was a book that I’d automatically pick up because I’ve really enjoyed Kim Lock’s earlier work, Peace, Love and Khaki Socks. As soon as I saw her name on that curious cover and with an even curioser synopsis, I just had to read it. It was, astonishingly, a different experience from Peace, Love and Khaki Socks where I just couldn’t stop smiling and yet, probably due to Kim’s earlier profession as a breastfeeding profession but also the fact that it’s just a normal part of life, more birthing experiences! Why do you always remind me of it, Kim?

This story is told from 2 perspectives: Fairlie’s, in the present, and Jenna’s, from the past prior to her suicide. I found that it was a little hard to get into, probably due to my different expectation but also because I had to get my head around the 2 voices from different points in time plus I wasn’t too keen on Fairlie; she was one big mess of a woman at the beginning and got worse. However, around the 20% mark, the story just grabbed me and I couldn’t read fast enough! I mean I knew somebody isn’t ‘well’ and really, the secret wasn’t such a hard one to guess but I was gripped by the flow of the telling that it didn’t matter that I knew what’s going on already.

Like I Can Love isn’t actually one of those psychological thriller but it could be… It’s not written in that way but I keep thinking that it definitely has all the potentials to be one! It lacks the major tension of a thriller and we’re told half the ending by the synopsis. Nevertheless, we are rather confronted by the hard facts of life: it takes an amazing amount of courage to look for help, we need to make ourselves available/reachable, and regardless of the ending (happily or otherwise), not one person is individually at fault. There is just so much to unpack in this book…

I have truly appreciated the few hours I spent in reading this book and would recommend it for it was such a riveting and poignant read. It reveals some of the hidden & hard realities of life but these need to be acknowledged as left hidden, terrible consequences will ensue. It’s not all doom and gloom for in life, there is always hope! I was quite happy with the way this story is wrapped up and even liked Fairlie then though I have one question: what did she say in her last drunken call in the book? But it’s a very minor disturbance to an overall amazing reading experience.

Thanks to MacMillan Australian for copy eARC in exchange of honest review

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Blog Tour: A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty

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Moriarty Jaclyn med

Jaclyn Moriarty grew up in Sydney’s north-west and studied Law and English on three continents – at Sydney University in Australia, Yale in the US and Cambridge in England. She spent four years working as a media and entertainment lawyer and now writes full-time so that she can sleep in each day. She lives in Sydney.

On books/writing

I can’t believe that it’s ending!  How do you feel about your latest visit to the Kingdom of Cello?

It was a wild trip.  I felt very sad when it was done, and I’d definitely like to visit again one day.  For now I will make a slide show out of my Cellian holiday pictures and invite friends around to watch.

Which are your favourite characters in this trilogy and why?

Well, I feel very fond of the central characters, Elliot and Madeleine. I always had fun writing Samuel of Olde Quainte because I never knew what he was going to say; I loved Sergio because I like people who turn out to be unexpected heroes and I liked his passion and dance moves; and I like Princess Ko because she was doing her best even if she was doing it badly.   Also Elliot’s cousin, little Corrie-Lynn, I thought she was very cool.  I’d like to see her grow up. 

A Couple of years ago, at Concord Library, (if I remember correctly) I believe you mentioned there are certain music / songs you listen you as per characters you were writing.  Could you please share some songs you were listening to whilst writing in Madeleine’s perspective?  And Elliot’s?

You have a sharp memory. Well done.  That’s a funny question because I was doing an interview for ABC Radio National the other day and I was talking about how I always choose a favourite song for each character.  The interviewer seemed very interested and I felt proud of myself for saying something interesting.  Then she asked me which song I had chosen for Madeleine for the last book and I could not remember.  I do not have a sharp memory like you.  I mean, I could hear the song inside my head but I couldn’t recall the title or even the band name.

Anyway, I went home and looked up the song names. The songs changed between books as the characters developed.  Madeleine’s songs included Sprawl II (Mountains beyond Mountains) by Arcade Fire, Let’s go down to the tennis court by Lorde, and All this and Heaven too by Florence and the Machine.  Elliot’s songs included Bloodbuzz Ohio by the National, Kamera by Wilco, and Little Lion Man by Mumford & Sons.

If possible, please share the pictures you’ve drawn of the Kingdom of Cello or any of the characters?

I would love to but I’m such a terrible artist!  I think you would only be disappointed.  I have a very, very messy, scribbled map of Bonfire, the Farms, where Elliot lives, which is hanging on the wall beside my desk.  I consulted it often when I was writing.  I just looked at it and decided you don’t want to see it.  My friend, the artist Elizabeth Pulie, turned another very messy, scribbled map of the Kingdom of Cello itself into the map that is in the opening pages of the Australian edition of the book.  She did a beautiful job.

Do you ever read parts of this trilogy to your son, Charlie?  If so, what was his reaction/s & which part was it?

A friend of mine is reading the books to her 8-year-old daughter, which has made my 9-year-old, Charlie, feel suddenly competitive.  He has decided he is going to read A Corner of White.  He told me sternly that he hopes it has a ‘sizzling start’.  He’s a tough critic. I feel uneasy.

Do you think some of his (boy’s!) humour influenced you in this very quirky trilogy?

In some ways Charlie’s humour is a lot like the humour you expect from small boys, and I am getting very weary of that sort of humour.  So maybe it influenced me in that I was hiding from it.  In other ways Charlie’s humour is unique and offbeat, and he likes wordplay and ambiguity, so maybe that was a sort of influence too?  It’s a great question.

What’s the next bookish project for you?

I’m working on a few books at once.  An adult book about a woman who enrols in a seminar series that promises to teach her the secret to human flight; a time travel book; a young adult book that returns to Ashbury and Brookfield; a book about my great-grandmother; and a book about a girl whose parents have run away to have adventures with pirates and left her instructions to deliver a chest full of treasures to ten different aunts.

On a serious note

On your profile you said that your “PhD was on the law relating to young people and the media – especially the privacy rights of young people—…“; what advice would you give young people these days noting the usage of social media these days?  Or to the parents?!  (My son is only 6 and I’m already not looking forward to the time he’ll be getting on to these platforms).

That’s a big question. I went to a seminar on cyber safety not long ago.  It was run by expert Susan McLean, and was terrifying.  Maybe a good start would be to read Susan McLean’s book, Sexts, Texts and Selfies.  I read it, and was once again terrified.

On a lighter note

The book you most enjoyed reading in 2015

I’m terrible at these questions because I’m too indecisive and I have read and loved many, many books this year.  So I’ll choose Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty (which is coming out this year, but I’ve read the manuscript and it’s mesmerising), A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, The Double Shadow by Sally Gardner, The Knife of Never Letting Go by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Clariel by Garth Nix.  I honestly meant to choose just one but I kept going.

The book you’re most looking forward to in 2016 (aside from A Tangle of Gold)

I’m looking forward to reading Justine Larbalestier’s My Sister Rosa and Kirsty Eagar’s Summer Skin, because I keep hearing great things about them.  I’m also excited about reading my sister Nicola’s new novel, The Fifth Letter,which I’m sure will be brilliant.

An author you’d most like to meet (who’s still alive) and what would you ask him/her?

Elizabeth McCracken, and I would ask her how she got such a super cool name.  I really love that name. (I also love her writing, which crackles).

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A Tangle of Gold (The Colours of Madeleine #3) by Jaclyn Moriarty

The dazzling conclusion to the award-winning The Colours of Madeleine trilogy, from one of the most original writers in YA fiction.

The Kingdom of Cello is in crisis. Princess Ko’s deception has been revealed and the Elite have taken control, placing the Princess, Samuel and Sergio under arrest and ordering their execution. Elliot is being held captive by the Hostiles and Colour storms are raging through the land. The Cello Wind has been silent for months.

Plans are in place to bring the remaining Royals home from the World but then all communication between Cello and the World will cease. That means Madeleine will lose Elliot, forever.

Madeleine and Elliot must solve the mystery of Cello before it is too late.

My Blurb (5 stars)

What an utterly satisfying conclusion!  The prettiest cover, the thickest book of the trilogy, and it will absolutely charm the pants off you.  The language was just as quirky (amazingly consistent throughout the trilogy) gave the story a very whimsical atmosphere.  Despite all the lightness, however, there was betrayal, harmful intent, and a very dark void.

Madeleine is a different girl in this final book.  She’s grown so much and gone through so many trials but she’s finally found herself.  I really liked Madeleine the first time I met her though you know, of course, there is something behind her brightness (just as Belle knew!).  Parts of it were revealed in books 1 & 2 but it all comes crashing on you in this latest instalment.  I kid you not, full-blown screaming involved and not just on my part 😉

She’s not the only one who has grown though as Elliott comes to the understanding that the Kingdom needs help, Keira coming onto her own, etc.  I feel quite a few of characters have matured though of course, some never do change!  I’m a little sad that Corrie-Lyn was only featured in a couple of snippets and I’m going to miss these characters so much!  On the other hand, I’m looking forward to Jaclyn Moriarty’s next works (especially the time travel one – I just Adore time travel!)

Thanks to MacMillan Australia for copy of Uncorrected Proof in exchange of honest review and the opportunity to participate in this blog tour.

Do visit all the other stops!  And if you’re in Sydney, Jaclyn will be at Dymocks George St. for Dymocks YA Bookmeet at 2:30pm (Sat, 5th March)

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Review: Fall

fallFall by Candice Fox
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

Please note this is a review of Book 3 in Archer & Bennett series and there may be spoilers in respect of earlier books.

Wow-Wee! Candice Fox delivers once again! This series is one that I would gladly re-read again and again. It is THAT good. I’ve rated all 3 five stars as each were unputdownable; I couldn’t wait to find out what’s going to happen next from one page to the next much less from one book to the next. I am hopping from one foot to another in impatience for the next instalment of Archer & Bennett.

Eden ends with a threat hanging over Eden’s secret identity. I was truthfully anxious to find out how this will pan out; I was afraid of what this will mean to Eden’s nocturnal activities, her ‘relationship’ with Bennett, and also afraid for the safety of the person who’s about to blow it all out. And just how did it turn out? Well! You really must read it for yourself since I couldn’t believe what happened & had to read it a few times over before it actually sunk it that she did it… when a few minutes before I was wailing, ‘No… No… Noooo…’

Eden, as the antiheroine, has a void insider her when it comes to empathy. This was highlighted very much in this novel. Bennett, on the other, appears to be a desperate case but there’s a little light of hope for him… What’s happened in this novel though dimmed what little hope there was and I’m not sure exactly whether I’m excited or nervous as I believe we are about to witness the dark-side of Bennett. Or are we?

If you love antiheroines, if you love your crime novels, you MUST read Candice Fox. I highly recommend this series, Archer & Bennett, to everyone. There are baddies and there are baddies. There’s the twist and then there’s THE twist. This series has utterly won my heart and Candice Fox my loyalty.

Thanks Random House Australia for eARC via NetGalley in exchange of honest review

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